Parliament must “uncover the truth” about claims of the late Ian Paisley having had his phone tapped by the security services, the politician’s son has suggested.
Ian Paisley Jnr, DUP MP for North Antrim, asked Speaker John Bercow to outline what action can be taken to verify allegations made by Labour former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott.
Firebrand former DUP leader Mr Paisley, who died in 2014, had his calls tapped despite a long-standing convention that MPs should not have their communications monitored, according to Lord Prescott.
Former PM Tony Blair has denied authorising such action, labelling Lord Prescott’s story as “wrong” and suggesting the account may have arisen from a “confused” recollection of a discussion about the convention – known as the Wilson doctrine.
Raising a point of order in the Commons, Mr Paisley Jnr said: “On Sunday April 2 and again on Sunday April 9 the former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott claimed that my father, when a member of parliament for North Antrim, had – contrary to the Wilson doctrine – his phone tapped by the security services.
“This of course infringes on the rights and liberties of all 650 members of this House and, more importantly, on the rights and liberties of our constituents.
“What steps can be taken to verify Lord Prescott’s claims and to hold to account those who failed to inform the speaker at that time about this breaking of the Wilson doctrine?
“And what course is now open to Parliament to uncover the truth in this affair?”
Mr Bercow advised Mr Paisley to outline his concerns in writing, adding such an approach is needed as he is raising a matter of privilege.
He said: “Traditionally in such circumstances the chair always advises the member to write to the speaker.
“If you do so I would then make a decision on whether this should be pursued as a matter of privilege. We’ll leave it there for now.”
Parliamentary privilege grants certain legal immunities for MPs and peers, and allows them to perform their duties without interference from outside the Commons or Lords.