IAN PAISLEY has been suspended from parliament for 30 days after failing to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan Government.
Mr Paisley, DUP MP for North Antrim, has also been suspended from his party “pending further investigation into his conduct”.
MPs voted today to suspend Mr Paisley from sitting in the House of Commons for 30 days following an investigation by the Standards Committee, who found him to have brought the House into disrepute.
The chief electoral officer will now set up a petition for Mr Paisley’s North Antrim constituents.
If 10 per cent of the constituents sign the petition, it will trigger a by-election and Mr Paisley will be forced to stand down, although he is permitted to stand in the election.
As well as casting doubt on his parliamentary position, his suspension from the DUP also raises questions about his future with the party.
In a statement following his Westminster suspension, the DUP said: “The Officers of the Democratic Unionist Party have considered the report of the House of Commons Committee on Standards on Ian Paisley MP.
“The Party takes this report and the matters contained within it very seriously.
“The Party Officers have decided to suspend Mr Ian Paisley MP from membership of the Party pending further investigation into his conduct.
“The Party does not intend to make any further comment on these matters during the course of the above outlined process.”
Mr Paisley allegedly failed to officially register two family trips worth £100,000 to Sri Lanka, paid for entirely by the Sri Lankan government.
Following the trips, Paisley wrote to then Home Secretary Theresa May in support of Sri Lanka over a proposed UN resolution.
The Committee found that these actions amounted to “paid advocacy” and added that Paisley had brought the Commons into disrepute.
Following Mr Paisley’s suspension, Patrick Corrigan, Head of Amnesty International in Northern Ireland, said: “Ian Paisley’s historic suspension from parliament has received a lot of attention, but let us not forget that the real victims of this scandal are those who were disappeared, tortured and killed in Sri Lanka.
“This is really a scandal about an MP attempting to stand in the way of international justice for the tens of thousands of civilians who lost their lives at the hands of the Sri Lankan government and the so-called Tamil Tigers.”
With parliament in recess next week until September, combined with party conference season, it could be November before Mr Paisley's 30-day Commons suspension is completed.