Ex Cabinet Minister Owen Paterson WON’T be suspended from Commons after Tory MPs voted down his sleaze ban


EX Cabinet Minister Owen Paterson WON’T be suspended from the Commons after Tory MPs tonight voted down his sleaze ban.

A furious row erupted in Parliament after Boris Johnson tore up the rulebook to save his Conservative colleague from a month’s suspension.

Owen Paterson won’t be suspended from the Commons

The Prime Minister wielded his huge majority to protect the former Cabinet Minister from a 30-day Commons ban handed down by the standards watchdog.

There were shouts from the Labour side of “shame” and “what have you done to this place” as the motion passed by 250 to 232.

Mr Paterson was found to have breached rules by using his job as an MP to lobby ministers and officials for two companies that paid him £112,000 as a consultant.

The cross-party standards committee of MPs recommended he be suspended from the Commons for 30 days for the “egregious case of paid advocacy.”

Mr Paterson strongly rejected the ruling – blaming the “torturous” two-year probe for his wife Rose’s suicide – and has fumed that he wasn’t allowed to appeal.

Tonight Tory MPs carried out a dramatic plot to launch a wider shake up of the standards system that would let Mr Paterson off the hook for now.

They voted for an amendment led by ex Cabinet Minister Andrea Leadsom to “express concern about potential defects in the standards system and
therefore declines to consider the report at this time”.

It would also create a separate committee of MPs – with a Tory majority – to consider sleaze cases in future.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner accused the Government of confecting a “grubby little stitch up” to save Mr Paterson’s career.

Chris Bryant, chair of the standards committee which recommended the ban, said the vote would “drive a coach and horses through our standards system”.

He said: “There have been times when I have been ashamed of being a member of this House. I don’t want to go back to that.”

Several Tory MPs also broke ranks and refused to vote with the PM to spare Mr Paterson.

Tory MP Aaron Bell said: “By bringing the amendment today, it looks like we are moving the goalposts.”

Conservative Simone Hoare raged: “I’m sure many of us in this house, on both sides, find these whole procedures edifying and somewhat embarrassing.”

Longest-serving MP Sir Peter Bottomley said: “We chose the system we are now using. If we want to consider changing it, we do it in a proper way instead of considering it in the way we are now.”

Case against

An investigation by Commons chief sleaze-buster Kathryn Stone found that Mr Paterson breached rules by lobbying for two firms that paid him £112,000.

Ms Stone says he contacted government ministers and officials on behalf of lab firm Randox and meat supplier Lynn’s Country Foods in a way that could have benefitted them.

The probe found he also inappropriately used his office in Parliament and Commons-headed notepaper for business affairs

A cross-party standards committee of MPs endorsed Ms Stone’s decision and recommended Mr Paterson be suspended for 30 days.

Case for the defence

Mr Paterson denies almost all wrongdoing and has tore into Ms Stone and the investigation into him.

He claims he used the meetings to raise issues of public health such as contaminated milk – which he says he discovered through his work with the companies but was not seeking to make them money.

The MP has directly attacked Ms Stone for only speaking with him after she had made up her mind and for refusing to call 17 of his witnesses who he says would exonerate him.

Mr Paterson said the two-year probe was so distressing it helped drive his wife Rose to suicide in the summer of last year.