Former minster Owen Paterson faces a MONTH suspension from the Commons for ‘egregious’ lobbying

Former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson is facing a month suspension from the House of Commons after being slammed by MPs for lobbying for two companies he worked for.

The ex-Environment Secretary broke parliamentary rules on paid advocacy while acting as a £100,000 consultant for Randox, a clinical diagnostics company, and Lynn’s Country Foods.  

The 65-year-old North Shropshire MP denied the charge and last week claimed the ‘cruel’ investigation ‘played a huge part’ in the death of his wife Rose last year.

He doubled down on this attack today in the wake of the report from the Parliamentary Committee on Standards, saying the investigation against him was ‘biased’.

‘On a personal level, the cost to me and my three grown-up children from the manner of this investigation has been catastrophic,’ he said in a statement. 

‘Last summer, in the midst of the investigation, my wife of 40 years, Rose, took her own life. We will never know definitively what drove her to suicide, but the manner in which this investigation was conducted undoubtedly played a major role.’

However, the committee today said ‘no previous case of paid advocacy has seen so many breaches or such a clear pattern of behaviour in failing to separate private and public interests’.

The 30-day ban, if upheld, could also trigger a recall petition allowing voters in his seat to demand a by-election.

The ex-Environment Secretary broke parliamentary rules on paid advocacy while acting as a £100,000 consultant for Randox, a clinical diagnostics company, and Lynn's Country Foods.

The ex-Environment Secretary broke parliamentary rules on paid advocacy while acting as a £100,000 consultant for Randox, a clinical diagnostics company, and Lynn's Country Foods.

The ex-Environment Secretary broke parliamentary rules on paid advocacy while acting as a £100,000 consultant for Randox, a clinical diagnostics company, and Lynn’s Country Foods.

The 65-year-old North Shropshire MP denied the charge and last week claimed the 'cruel' investigation 'played a huge part' in the death of his wife Rose (pictured in 2017) last year.

The 65-year-old North Shropshire MP denied the charge and last week claimed the 'cruel' investigation 'played a huge part' in the death of his wife Rose (pictured in 2017) last year.

The 65-year-old North Shropshire MP denied the charge and last week claimed the ‘cruel’ investigation ‘played a huge part’ in the death of his wife Rose (pictured in 2017) last year.

The report said: ‘Mr Paterson’s wife took her own life in June 2020. The committee consider it very possible that grief and distress caused by this event has affected the way in which Mr Paterson approached the commissioner’s investigation thereafter.’ 

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards opened the investigation in October 2019 following allegations Owen Paterson had improperly lobbied for Randox and meat processor Lynn’s Country Foods.

The commissioner found the North Shropshire MP had breached a rule prohibiting paid advocacy in the MPs’ Code of Conduct in making three approaches to the Food Standards Agency relating to Randox and the testing of antibiotics in milk in November 2016 and 2017.

He was also found to have breached the rule over making seven approaches to the same agency for Lynn’s Country Foods between November 2017 and July 2018, and four approaches to ministers in the Department for International Development relating to Randox and blood testing technology in October 2016 and January 2017.

He also breached the Code of Conduct over declarations of interest by failing to declare his role as a paid consultant to Lynn’s in four emails to the Food Standards Agency between November 2016 and January 2018.

Mr Paterson also breached the code over use of parliamentary facilities by using his parliamentary office for business meetings with clients on 25 occasions between October 2016 and February 2020 and by sending two letters relating to business interests on House of Commons headed notepaper in October 2016 and January 2017.

After analysing the commissioner’s findings, the Committee on Standards recommended he be suspended for 30 days.

Its report said: ‘The committee found that Mr Paterson’s actions were an egregious case of paid advocacy, that he repeatedly used his privileged position to benefit two companies for whom he was a paid consultant, and that this has brought the House into disrepute.’

link

(Visited 38 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply