Belfast Telegraph

You've a brass neck suggesting Ian Paisley should be sacked: Sammy Wilson attacks BBC saying MP has been punished enough

By Jonathan Bell

The DUP's Sammy Wilson attacked the BBC for having the "brass neck" to suggest Ian Paisley should be sacked by his party, saying the MP had been punished enough.

The East Antrim Member of Parliament went on the offensive when questioned if Mr Paisley should be the DUP candidate if a by-election is called.

He said there was "parallels" between Ian Paisley's Commons sanction for not declaring lavish family holidays and advocating on behalf of the Sri Lankan Government and the BBC losing its privacy case against Sir Cliff Richard.

"If you are suggesting we sack him, you've a bit of a brass neck," the MP told Mark Carruthers on the Sunday Politics show.

"I want to know what the BBC stance is when people do wrong, when they get fined."

Mr Carruthers said he would need to ask "someone a lot more important than me," adding "I  think people can see through this."

Turning to the matter of Mr Paisley and his House of Commons 30-sitting day suspension, Sammy Wilson said there should be no further sanction from his party.

On Saturday DUP party officers met to discuss the matter. It's thought the outcome of the disciplinary process will not be known for some time. Last week leader Arlene Foster dodged a question of supporting the MP, saying the matter rests with the party officers.

The Sunday Life reported the MP could be suspended from the party which would likely end before any by-election allowing him to stand as a DUP candidate.

"As far as I am concerned Ian Paisley has been punished by the House of Commons," said Sammy Wilson.

"He has been punished very severely. He has admitted he did wrong and he has apologised to the party, to parliament and to his constituents.

"I don't believe there should be any additional sanction imposed on him. I believe he has admitted he was wrong, he didn't try to hide it, he stood up and publicly apologised for it and has been punished very severely for it."

Asked if Ian Paisley should be the party candidate for DUP should a by-election be called, the MP said he "deserved" to be a candidate aand he was a "great MP".

"The reason why he has a massive majority is because people in his constituency know he works hard for them," he added.

"I watch him in the House of Commons, he is a diligent MP, I think he deserves to be a candidate."

The House of Commons is to consider a motion recommending Ian Paisley's suspension. It will likely be upheld.

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