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Owen Paterson faces 30-day Commons suspension for rule breach after watchdog report

Super Admin 22 Oct 26

Ex-minister Owen Paterson could be suspended from the Commons for 30 days after an MPs' watchdog found he had "repeatedly" used his position as an MP to benefit two companies who paid him as a consultant.

The watchdog described his actions as "an egregious case of paid advocacy".

In reply, the Conservative MP said: "The process I have been subjected to does not comply with natural justice."

"I am not guilty and a fair process would exonerate me," he added.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone opened an investigation into the MP following accusations he had lobbied on behalf of two companies who employed him.

Her report said he was a paid consultant to Randox and Lynn's Country Foods and had made approaches to the Food Standards Agency and Department for International Development ministers about the companies.

The commissioner also found Mr Paterson had breached the MPs' code of conduct by using his parliamentary office on 25 occasions for business meetings with clients between October 2016 and February 2020 and in sending two letters relating to business interests on House of Commons headed notepaper.

The report noted that there was no immediate financial benefit secured by the two companies, but that Mr Paterson's approaches could "clearly have conferred significant benefits on Randox and Lynn's in the long term and even in the short term secured meetings that would not have been available without Mr Paterson's involvement".

The Standards Committee recommended that Mr Paterson be suspended from Parliament for 30 sitting days, which will now be debated.

If an MP is suspended for more than 10 sitting days by a Parliamentary committee, this can automatically trigger a recall petition - something which could lead to a by-election in their seat.

Mr Paterson has strongly denied any wrongdoing.

In a statement, Mr Paterson said he had raised "very serious issues" including that "milk and ham were contaminated with carcinogenic prohibited substances and that milk contained residues that cause AMR [antimicrobial resistance]" and added that "lives will have been saved".

He claims he was pronounced guilty by the commissioner "without being spoken to" and that "no proper investigation was undertaken".