Paisley must '˜come clean' with Parliament: Wells

DUP MLA Jim Wells has called on his party colleague Ian Paisley to 'come clean and apologise' to Parliament, after he failed to declare two luxury holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

Thursday, 19th July 2018, 11:04 am
Updated Thursday, 19th July 2018, 12:08 pm
Ian Paisley MP

Mr Paisley is today likely to be suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days after a Parliamentary watchdog upheld multiple allegations that he broke Parliamentary rules by engaging in “paid advocacy” for Sri Lanka – after the Sri Lankan regime had twice flown him and his family for luxury holidays at idyllic resorts.

The North Antrim MP will this morning give a statement to the House of Commons on the matter.

And Mr Wells said people will be “watching very carefully”.

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“He needs to come clean, he needs to say exactly what happened. He needs to apologise to Parliament, to his constituents, and to the party for what he had done,” he told BBC’s Nolan Show this morning.

“And he needs to make it absolutely clear that there can be no possibility of a repeat of what has happened.”

The consequences of the suspension go far beyond Mr Paisley and could have implications for the nature of Brexit, given that there are expected to be further knife-edge Commons votes in the autumn.

Mr Paisley could also be forced to stand down, forcing a by-election.

Mr Wells said his party colleague had made a “ghastly mistake” and described his actions as “unacceptable”.

The South Down MLA also said he would be watching carefully to see what punishment – if any – the DUP imposes on Mr Paisley.

Earlier this year, veteran DUP representative Mr Wells lost the party whip after he launched a stinging attack on the leadership.

When asked if he would be comparing the party’s actions in this instance to how he was treated, Mr Wells told the Nolan Show: “Absolutely.”

However, he declined to comment on whether he felt the party should suspend Mr Paisley, adding: “I want to hear what he says today, and then I will make up my mind.”

Mr Wells said if he had broken Parliamentary rules in the same way as Mr Paisley, he “would be gone” from the party.

He added: “But I’m me, Ian Paisley is in a rather different position because of the strength of his position in his constituency”.

Mr Paisley has enjoyed an unassailable position in his North Antrim constituency since he took over the seat from his father, DUP founder Ian Paisley Snr, in 2010.

But TUV leader Jim Allister asked: “Why should there be a difference made according to who you are?

“This is a real challenge for the DUP. Are they going to stand up and do what is right, or are they going to endorse this behaviour?

“The DUP is in an embarrassing position here that they cannot run away from.”