Ian Paisley Jnr has been paid thousands of pounds by a bank at a rate of more than £350-an-hour and missed a key House of Commons vote on military action against Syria because he was working for the bank in Africa, it has emerged.
The North Antrim MP has registered the financial interest at Westminster, revealing that the bank paid £5,000 to fly him to Uganda and cover his expenses while there – at the same time as Parliament was debating whether to move ahead with proposals to bomb Syria.
The news comes just two weeks after it emerged that the DUP man is the UK’s most expensive MP, claiming £232,000 from taxpayers’ money for running his office, travel and accommodation.
MPs are allowed to engage in work outside Parliament – for many years SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell continued to work as a GP – and there is no suggestion that Mr Paisley has broken any of Westminster’s rules.
His updated entry in the Register of Member’s Interests says that EBI SA, a French subsidiary of the pan-African Ecobank, has paid him £7,500 for 21 hours of consultancy work.
Mr Paisley described the work as “providing periodic advice for economic reports and analysis on global politics”.
The former Stormont junior minister said that as part of that work he had undertaken the trip to Uganda with the £5,000 cost being met by the French financial institution.
The TUV leader Jim Allister highlighted the issue and the fact that the trip had coincided with the “crucial” vote on Syria last month.
The North Antrim MLA added: “I’ll leave it to the people of North Antrim to make their own judgment.”
Mr Paisley’s entry in the Westminster register of interests also reveals expensive trips to New York, Gibraltar and the Maldives, with the costs met by businesses, governments or voluntary groups.
Mr Paisley said that he had visited the Maldives to “meet the president and vice president of the Maldives to discuss human rights” and to discuss electoral reform.
Mr Paisley expressed no regret over missing the vote, telling his local newspaper, the Ballymena Guardian: “Jim was taught a lesson at the last election when he fought me and tasted utter rejection of himself and his policies by the North Antrim people.
“He has no place to lecture me about how I do my job, and in fact should spend his efforts doing the job he actually has instead of pontificating to others and picking fights he will lose.”
MP Defends payments
Ian Paisley Jnr last night said that there was no three line whip on the Syrian debate.
He added that Jim Allister, a former practising QC, was “the last person who should comment on lucrative personal incomes – he clearly has a short memory” and stressed that Parliament was in recess when the Syria vote was called, meaning that he had made plans to travel to Uganda for “a series of meetings”.