Ian Paisley Jr apologises to House of Commons over luxury holiday controversy

The family holidays were paid for by the Sri Lankan Government.

Ian Paisley Jr apologises to House of Commons over luxury holiday controversy

DUP MP Ian Paisley apologising to the House of Commons in London, 19-07-2018. Image: PA Wire/PA Images

DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr has apologised to the British House of Commons over his failure to declare two luxury family holidays that were paid for by the Sri Lankan Government.

The North Antrim representative is facing a 30-day suspension from the house.

The holidays were originally reported by the Daily Telegraph which estimated the value at £100,000 (€112,000) - however Mr Paisley claims the cost was closer to £50,000 (€56,000).

Following the trips, he wrote to then-British Prime Minister David Cameron in support of the Sri Lankan government over a proposed UN resolution.

In the letter, he noted with alarm the UK Government's decision to "internationalise the internal affairs of Sri Lanka” and called on Mr Cameron not to support a UN resolution “internationalising” the conflict in that country."

In a report published this week, the Commons Standards Committee found that his actions amounted to "paid advocacy" and warned that they had brought the UK House of Commons into disrepute.

Addressing the House of Commons this afternoon, 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.

He said he hopes his constituents will forgive him.

"It is to my constituents, who have sent me here since 2010 that I make the profoundest of all apologies," he said.

"They have honoured me with unwavering support to be their voice and I hope they will continue to have that confidence in me in the future."

The committee recommended the "severe" punishment of a 30-day suspension from the house.

Should MPs vote to enforce the punishment, his absence could deny the British Prime Minister crucial support during a period of important Brexit votes in parliament.

Should the suspension be confirmed by MPs, it will be the heaviest handed out for around 15 years.