mp-accused-of-watching-porn-in-commons-should-be-kicked-out-of-party-if-guilty,-says-minister

MP accused of watching porn in Commons should be kicked out of party if guilty, says minister

An MP under investigation for allegedly watching pornography in the Commons should be kicked out of the Tory party if he is found guilty, a minister has said.

Neil Parish, who had the Conservative whip suspended on Friday, said he opened a file by mistake but would only step down if he is found guilty.

He referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards on Friday, days after two female Tory MPs said they witnessed him watching pornography on his mobile phone on two separate occasions – once in the Commons chamber and another at a committee.

Speaking to Sky news, safeguarding minister Rachel Maclean maintained her position the MP should be kicked out of the party if he is found guilty.

She said: “Clearly if this is substantiated and those allegations turn out to be true, of course I stand by what I said, but at the same time there is now an investigation so it wouldn’t be helpful for me to speculate on the specific outcomes.

“This type of behaviour has no place in any workplace let alone Parliament, but I think everybody would accept that when there’s an allegation that’s made… it isn’t really for us, as colleagues, to sit on judgment on another colleague, it is for that process to take.”

She added: “I don’t see why the investigation can’t be concluded very quickly and I’m certain that appropriate action will then follow from that.”

On Friday, Mr Parish, the Tiverton and Honiton MP, asked at his Somerset home if he opened a file “by error”, said: “I did, but let the inquiry look at that.”

He said he would await the findings of the investigation while continuing his “duties” but would “not remain” if he was found guilty.

“I will be cooperating fully with any investigation, and whilst it is ongoing I will continue to perform my duties as MP for Tiverton and Honiton,” he wrote on his website.

However, there have been calls for him to resign immediately with Labour’s Harriet Harman saying he should stand down from parliament “right away”.

The longest-standing female MP described the situation as a “new low for the House of Commons” and said Mr Parish is “not fit to be in parliament”.

“He should accept that and not drag the processes out,” she told BBC Radio 4.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper called for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to order Mr Parish to “resign immediately”, saying the behaviour would “count as gross misconduct” in any other workplace.

Mr Parish, who was suspended by the party on Friday, said he would “fully comply” with the investigation as he apologised and revealed he only told his wife this afternoon.

Neil Parish

Sue Parish, with who he has been married for 40 years, said the whole episode was “just a bit stupid and the allegations were “very embarrassing”.

Asked if she was aware of her husband viewing porn before, she told The Times: “No. He’s quite a normal guy, really. He’s a lovely person. It’s just so stupid.

“People shouldn’t be looking at pornography. He would never just sit there with people looking. He would never just do that knowing [people were looking].

“These ladies were quite right to be as [upset] as they were. I’ve just no idea what happens in these circumstances. I don’t know whether it’s ever happened before.”

She added that pornography is “degrading, demeaning” to women but said it would be “stupid” to let it come between them, adding: “I’m fairly tough, you’ve got to carry on, haven’t you?”

Mrs Parish said she did not know what was going to happen to her husband’s career but told The Times: “I don’t think it’s going to carry on, is it?

“It’s so stupid. He’s such a good MP. He’s such a good person.”

Chief whip looked ‘horrified’

Mr Parish’s name was revealed by the Tory’s chief whip after the MP reported himself to the Standards Commissioner, Kathryn Stone, on Friday.

A spokesman for the chief whip said: “Mr Parish has been suspended from the Conservative Whip pending the outcome of that investigation.”

Politics hub: Lib Dems call for Neil Parish’s resignation and Labour accuse Tories of ‘cover up’

Two female Conservative MPs made the allegation against Mr Parish during a meeting of women Tory backbench MPs on Tuesday evening, but the whips office had not publicly named him.

One MP at the meeting said Tory chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris looked “horrified” as they informed him, and asked for the man’s identity.

Around 50 to 60 female Tory MPs are said to have been present at the meeting.

Mr Parish is now understood to be the focus of two investigations – one by the parliamentary commissioner Kathryn Stone after he referred himself to her, and another by the Independent Complaints and Grievances Scheme (ICGS), which one of the female MP witnesses referred him to.

Who is Neil Parish?

A farmer by trade, Neil Parish has been the MP for Tiverton and Honiton since 2010. Before that, he was an MEP.

A father of two and grandfather of two, he still lives on the family farm, according to his official website.

At the last election, he held a healthy majority of 24,239, securing 60% of the vote.

Throughout his time in politics, his focus has “always been standing up for residents and being a strong voice for the countryside”, his biography states.

He is the current chair of the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee and as such also sits on the powerful Liaison Committee.

Mr Parish campaigned to remain in the EU as he said he believed that was “the best option for British agriculture”. However, he promised to “fight tooth and nail” to get the best Brexit deal for farmers.

Labour accuse Tories of ‘cover up’

Thangam Debbonaire, Labour’s shadow leader of the House of Commons, said: “The Conservatives knew for days about the disgusting behaviour of one of their MPs and tried to cover it up.

“From the Owen Paterson scandal to their failure to act against their paedophile MP Imran Ahmad Khan, this is a government rotting from the head down. Britain deserves better.”

On Thursday, Boris Johnson addressed the allegation for the first time, saying: “It’s obviously unacceptable for anybody to be doing that kind of thing in the workplace.

“It would be the same for any job up and down the country.

“Clearly that kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable.”

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Porn watching MP ‘unacceptable’

Other cabinet ministers also spoke out against the allegations, with government efficiency minister Jacob Rees-Mogg saying it was “extraordinary and appalling”.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the culture needed to change in Westminster following “several instances of inappropriate and sexist behaviour”.

Attorney general Suella Braverman suggested that if the allegations were proven the culprit could be suspended or even expelled from parliament.