Bid to review standards system ahead of vote to suspend lobbying rules breach MP


onservative MPs will attempt to save a colleague who was found to have breached lobbying rules from suspension from the Commons citing concerns about the investigation procedures for alleged misconduct.

North Shropshire Tory MP Owen Paterson was found to have committed an “egregious” breach of standards rules as he lobbied ministers and officials for two companies paying him more than £100,000 per year.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone recommended he be banned from the Commons for six weeks, which represents 30 sitting days.

The Houses of Parliament (PA) / PA Wire

But amendments tabled ahead of a planned vote on the case on Wednesday looked to delay or completely quash any sanctions, as The Telegraph reported Tory MPs and ministers will be told by Government whips to back attempts to reform the standards procedures.

One amendment put forward by former leader of the Commons Dame Andrea Leadsom would see the creation of a new committee that would examine – among other issues – whether the case against Mr Paterson should be reviewed.

A separate amendment proposed by New Forest East MP Dr Julian Lewis said no further action should be taken “on compassionate grounds” and this has been supported by fellow Conservatives William Wragg and Peter Bone, with a total of 13 MPs backing it as of Tuesday evening.

Mr Paterson has said the manner in which the investigation was carried out had “undoubtedly” played a “major role” in the decision of his wife Rose to take her own life last year.

And he has angrily disputed the findings of the report, claiming the investigation was unfairly conducted.

On Tuesday, Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg expressed sympathy for the MP’s claim that the commissioner did not speak to 17 witnesses who came forward to support him, describing that decision as “interesting”.

Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg (Stefan Rousseau/PA) / PA Wire

Mr Rees-Mogg told his ConservativeHome podcast: “It is always very important that systems appear to be fair, and therefore if somebody has witnesses, it would normally appear to be fair that those witnesses should be heard.

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