Northern Ireland

Paisley parliamentary investigation under way, says Foster

Ian Paisley Image copyright Peter Summers/GETTY IMAGES

The Parliamentary Commission for Standards has said it is unable to say if they are investigating Ian Paisley.

On Thursday night, DUP leader Arlene Foster told The View one is under way.

Politicians reported Mr Paisley after a BBC Spotlight alleged a Maldivian government minister paid for a 2016 family holiday.

However, Westminster rules mean that MPs' names are no longer routinely published if they are the subject of an investigation.

When asked about her party's investigation into the matter, Mrs Foster said due process had to be followed.

"As you know the parliamentary authorities are investigating that matter and we have to deal with all of those issues," she said.

A spokesperson for the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards said that they were not able to confirm whether or not any investigation into a former member exists or does not exist.

Asked if he was the subject an investigation, Mr Paisley said: "There is currently no investigation by the Parliamentary Standards Committee. As Parliament has been dissolved there is currently no investigation."

The BBC understands that investigations are normally paused when Parliament is dissolved and recommenced if the member is re-elected.

Luxury holiday

In June 2019 Spotlight revealed the company that owns the resort in the Maldives where the family stayed said Mohamed Shainee requested the accommodation and settled the payment.

At the time of Mr Paisley's trip to Coco Bodu Hithi Mr Shainee was the Maldives fisheries and agriculture minister.

Mr Shainee told the programme he did not pay for the trip but the hotel's owners claimed the minister settled the bill.

It came eight months after North Antrim MP Mr Paisley visited the country and lobbied on its government's behalf.

In 2018, Mr Paisley was suspended from Parliament for 30 sitting days after he failed to declare two family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

He apologised in the House of Commons, admitted "deep personal embarrassment" and claimed he had made a "genuine mistake".

After the June Spotlight, Mr Paisley challenged the BBC to submit its evidence.

"If the BBC think I have done anything wrong, all the BBC has to do is to submit evidence to the Parliamentary Commissioner," he said.

"The independent authority can examine on all of those matters and make their own ruling.

"That's the only comment I can make."

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