MP Owen Paterson faces suspension for breaking lobbying rules

MP Owen Paterson faces suspension for breaking lobbying rules

Tory MP Owen Paterson faces a 30-day suspension from the House of Commons for a “flagrant” violation of lobbying rules, raising the possibility that he will lose his seat if enough voters call a by-election.

The MP for North Shropshire, a former cabinet minister, was recognized by Commons Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone for breaking advocacy rules after finding out he was working as a consultant for Randox, a company for clinical diagnosis, since August. 2015. It was also discovered that he was a paid consultant for Lynn’s Country Foods, a processor and distributor of meat products since December 2016.

In a ruling on Tuesday, the commissioner found that he had made three representations to the Food Standards Agency regarding Randox and the testing of antibiotics in milk; seven approaches to the same agency concerning Lynn’s Country Foods; and four approaches to ministers of the Department of International Development regarding Randox and blood testing technology.

Stone said he did not declare his interest and used his parliamentary office 16 times for business meetings with his clients between October 2016 and February 2020, and sent two related letters to its business interests on taxpayer-funded Commons letterhead.

She called it a “blatant case of paid advocacy” and said Paterson had “repeatedly used his privileged position to benefit two companies he was a paid consultant for, and that brought the house into disrepute.”

The standards committee has ruled that Paterson should be suspended from the House of Commons for 30 sitting days.

Under a law introduced in the wake of the MP spending scandal, any MP suspended for more than 10 days can face a trigger ballot where their voters decide to force a by-election by backing a recall petition. Ten percent of voters in Paterson’s seat are expected to support the petition for a by-election to be called.

Paterson previously held two ministerial positions, including as Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.


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