Colleagues of a Conservative MP who has been given a 30-day suspension from the House of Commons for violating lobbying rules will try to overturn his sentence tomorrow.
Last month, a standardization body ruled that the former Conservative minister Owen Paterson should be suspended from the Commons for lobbying on behalf of two companies.
On Wednesday, some Tory MPs will try to avoid Mr Paterson facing a sentence by arguing that the standard commissioner’s inquiry into the case was flawed.
In October, it was found that Mr Paterson had “repeatedly used his privileged position” for the benefit of Randox, a clinical diagnostics firm, and Lynn’s Country Foods, a meat processor and distributor.
Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone recommended that Mr Paterson be suspended from Commons for one month.
The MP, who was environmental secretary from 2012 to 2014, was a paid consultant for Randox from 2015 and for Lynn’s Country Foods from 2016. The allegations relate to his behavior between October 2016 and February 2020.
On October 26, after a two-year inquiry, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards said Mr Paterson had violated the rule of banning paid advocacy by addressing government departments and ministers of the two companies.
But Mr Paterson denies the allegations, saying he raised very serious questions about food pollution and accused Mrs Stone of admitting to him that she “decided” before the allegations were made to him and that none of his 17 witnesses were interviewed.
He also claims that the study “undoubtedly played a major role” in his wife, Rose Paterson, and took his own life last June.
Ms Stone’s recommendation that Mr Paterson receive a 30-day suspension from the House of Commons for his actions must be voted on by MPs and will take place on Wednesday.
Still, it is believed that two Conservative MPs have tabled amendments – former minister Andrea Leadsom and Chairman of the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee Dr. Julian Lewis – calls on a separate committee to examine whether Mr Paterson’s case should be reconsidered and suggests that no further action be taken “for compassionate reasons”.
The decision to accept an amendment lies with the Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.
The Times Newspaper reported earlier Tuesday that Sir Lindsay had told a contact person that a reversal of the suspension would bring the House of Commons into disrepute.
Paterson had previously said the investigation had been “catastrophic” for him and his three adult children, and that his deceased wife would ask him “desperately” every weekend about the investigation “convinced that the investigation would go a long way to finding me wrong. “.
Ms Paterson’s anxiety increased the more the investigation went, and she was convinced it would ruin his reputation and force him to resign, he said.
He also said she feared she would step down from her post as president of the Aintree Racecourse and as steward of the Jockey Club, “two roles she was rightly hugely proud of”.
The MP said as a result of his intervention, “basic foods consumed by millions, milk and ham, are now safer than before” and said he would not hesitate to act in the same way again “despite this twisted and inadequate study” .
At the conclusion of Mrs Stone’s review of the evidence concerning Mr Paterson, the Honorable Member was found to have violated the rules on lobbying on behalf of Randox by making three inquiries to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) on testing antibiotics in milk in 2016 and 2017 and addressed four times to ministers at the Department of International Development about his blood test technology in those years.
On behalf of Lynn’s Country Foods, Paterson violated the rules by contacting the FSA in 2017 and 2018 and failed to declare his interest as a paid consultant to the FSA in four emails between 2016 and 2018.
He was also found to have violated the rules on the use of parliamentary facilities by using his parliamentary office 16 times for business meetings with clients between 2016 and 2020, and by sending two letters regarding his business interests to the House of Commons.
The MP acknowledged that he should not have used that headline paper and apologized, but maintained that he had not violated the Code of Conduct in any other respect.
Downing Street refused to be pulled on, though Boris Johnson considered the report to be deficient, as Mr Paterson and his allies have claimed when asked this week.
The Prime Minister’s press secretary said: “The standard regime is a matter for the House of Commons.”
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