DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr suspended over Sri Lankan holidays

A by-election could be called if North Antrim constituents sign a petition

DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr suspended over Sri Lankan holidays

File photo show DUP North Antrim MP Ian Paisley Jnr in Belfast | Image: Liam McBurney/PA Archive/PA Images

The DUP Westminster MP Ian Paisley Junior has been suspended from London's House of Commons for 30 sitting days and had his salary withdrawn for a month.

It comes at the end of an investigation into two holidays taken by the Northern Ireland politician and his family, funded by the Sri Lankan government.

His absence is likely to last until October, as the UK parliament goes into recess on Tuesday and does not sit again until September 4th, 2018.

The suspension means that if 10% of the North Antrim MP's constituents sign a petition to "recall" him, a by-election will be triggered there.

It will also be a blow to British Prime Minister Theresa May, who is relying on the DUP's 10 MPs to keep her government in power through a confidence and supply agreement.

Mr Paisley Jr has previously apologised for an "unintentional failure" to register the hospitality, which was taken in 2013 and valued at over stg£50,000 (€56,172).

Addressing the House of Commons last week, Mr Paisley admitted he failed to properly register the holidays - but claimed he had "no ulterior motive for that genuine mistake."

He said he recognised "how serious that mistake was" and said it was with "profound personal regret and deep personal embarrassment" that he was making his apology.

While he accepted the findings of the report however, he said, "I do so regret its sanctions."

"I am disappointed that I was not able to persuade members of the committee of the weight of my arguments on some of the major maters of mitigation - especially on the issue of paid advocacy," he said.

DUP suspension

MPs voted for a motion to suspend him by House of Commons leader Andrea Leadsom, following the advice of the parliamentary commissioner for standards.

Ms Leadsom said debating suspending MPs was "always regrettable".

Meanwhile the DUP said it takes these matters "very seriously".

In a statement it said: "The party officers have decided to suspend Mr Ian Paisley MP from membership of the party pending further investigation into his conduct.

"The party does not intend to make any further comment on these matters during the course of the above outlined process."