Neil Parish should be kicked out of Tory party if found guilty, says minister
Neil Parish, the Tory accused of watching pornography in the Commons, has signalled he may stand down as an MP – already if the parliamentary watchdog investigating clears him of any wrongdoing.
Despite facing calls by some colleagues to resign closest and a possible end to his 12-year parliamentary career, Mr Parish, who is a farmer by trade, also said he was relieved the accusations were out in the open. “It’s as if a weight is lifted,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
Other than claiming he viewed the adult content in error, the Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton has refused to give details of exactly what happened, saying only that “it’s all going to have to go by the inquiry”. He did, however, tell the newspaper he may quit no matter the outcome.
Following a decision by the Commons standards commissioner Kathryn Stone, who Mr Parish referred himself to on Friday, he said: “Then I will make my mind up as to what I do, whether I keep in parliament or whether I leave.” It is the first suggestion however that he is considering whether his position is tenable after the allegations.
Porn shame MP’s wife discloses she heard news from journalist
Neil Parish’s wife has revealed that she first learnt that her husband was the MP accused of watching porn in the Commons from a journalist.
The Tory MP’s name was confirmed publicly by the Conservative whips’ office around 3pm on Friday, but it was not until he returned home later that day that Mr Parish confessed to his wife – by which time she had already been told the details in a phone call from a reporter, writes our political editor Andrew Woodcock.
Mrs Parish, 66, made clear that she was standing by her husband of 41 years, saying that the matter had been settled between them to her satisfaction.
She said she first discovered that the MP at the centre of the porn scandal was her husband when a reporter called to ask for comment. “I didn’t know anything about it until he rang and said, ‘Oh, you know what I’m ringing about…’” she told the Daily Telegraph.
“I didn’t know who was more embarrassed, truly, me or him, poor chap.”
Sam Hancock30 April 2022 11:34
Watch: Labour accuse Tories of ‘shameful’ delay in porn case
Labour accuse Tories of ‘shameful’ delay in porn case
Sam Hancock30 April 2022 10:57
Parish indicates he may resign over porn claims, already if cleared by parliament
Neil Parish, the Tory accused of watching pornography in the Commons debating chamber, has signalled he may stand down as an MP – already if the parliamentary watchdog investigating clears him of any wrongdoing.
In an interview with the BBC on Friday, Mr Parish said he had viewed the adult material in error but refused to give more details.
Later that same day, in another interview with The Telegraph, he said much of the same – that “it’s all going to have to go by the inquiry, and then I will give them all the evidence I have, and it’ll be for them to make the decision” – but he went a step further by suggesting he may resign no matter the outcome.
“Then I will make my mind up as to what I do, whether I keep in parliament or whether I leave,” Mr Parish told the newspaper when explaining his next steps. It is the first signal however that he is considering whether his position is tenable after the allegations.
Asked if he had a message for his constituents in Devon, where he lives with his wife of 41 years, Sue, Mr Parish said: “That I very much enjoy being their MP, I’ve worked very hard, and I will continue working for them. I apologise for the situation – the whip is withdrawn – but I am nevertheless their MP. And at the moment I’m nevertheless the chair of the ecosystem, food and rural affairs select committee, and I take that job very seriously. And I will carry it on for as long as I have it.”
Despite facing public ridicule and an end to his 12-year parliamentary career, Mr Parish, who is a farmer by trade, told the paper that now the accusation is “out in the open, it’s almost as if a weight is lifted off me”.
He also used the interview to thank his wife, who he described as being “amazingly loyal and better than I deserve”.
This development in the Tory party’s latest saga comes less than a week before local elections on 5 May, with some officials reportedly concerned Mr Parish is now a liability to the party.
Sam Hancock30 April 2022 10:51
Tory MP apologises to teachers over ‘quiet drink during lockdown’ comments
Michael Fabricant has apologised for suggesting many teachers and nurses enjoyed a “quiet drink” at the end of the day in staff rooms during lockdown.
In a letter published on the NAHT schools leaders’ union website, following outrage from the sector over his comments, Mr Fabricant said it was not his intention to “cause offence” or to “demoralise”, “and I apologise if I have genuinely done so”.
The Tory MP said in a “wide-ranging” interview with the BBC, he had explained he was neither “judging nor chastising the minority of nurses or teachers who chose to unwind with a few work colleagues after a long shift”. He additional: “Nor did I suggest that any were drunk.”
During the interview, the Lichfield MP – who is a staunch supporter of the PM – said he did not think Boris Johnson knew he was breaking the law when he attended a gathering in Downing Street in June 2020 to celebrate his 56th birthday. Mr Johnson has afterward paid a fine for attending the event in violation of coronavirus rules.
In his apology, Mr Fabricant said that since the interview, a number of other situations of teachers drinking at school had been brought to his attention. He additional this was “not surprising given that there are some 500,000 nurses and 625,000 teachers throughout Britain”.
But he admitted: “My error in one part of the programme – which was repeated on TV – was to give the impression this was general practice by nurses and teachers: this was never the case.”
NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said the union was “pleased Mr Fabricant has expressed regret for the effect of his comments – they were unjustified, unhelpful and damaging.
Sam Hancock30 April 2022 10:28
MPs call for reform of Westminster groups to avid the ‘next great parliamentary scandal’
In other Westminster news, unofficial parliamentary groups need meaningful reform to avid the “next great parliamentary scandal” of lobbyists buying access to MPs, a cross-party committee has warned.
It also stressed there is a “real risk” of hostile foreign actors gaining ‘improper access and influence” by All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) – bodies that examine a wide variety of subjects, reports our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn.
In a major report, MPs on the Commons Standards Committee noted there has been a emotional increase in the number of APPGs, and while “vital” to parliamentary work, they risk “inappropriate influence and access”.
Sam Hancock30 April 2022 10:17
Watch: Parish should be kicked out of Tory party if found guilty, says minister
Neil Parish should be kicked out of Tory party if found guilty, says minister
Sam Hancock30 April 2022 09:45
Tory party ‘very laddish’ under PM, says former minister
The Conservative Party has become “very laddish” under Boris Johnson’s leadership, a former minister for women has said.
Speaking in the wake of MP Neil Parish’s suspension from the party for watching porn in the Commons chamber, Anne Milton said she was “angry” that those at the top of the party had failed to rule by example by showing high standards of behaviour, including over the Partygate scandal.
Ms Milton, who served in the governments of David Cameron and Theresa May, but was stripped of the Tory whip by Johnson for refusing to vote for a no-deal Brexit and lost her Guildford seat after 14 years standing as an independent in 2019, said women had been given a less noticeable role under the current leader.
Asked if there was a culture of sexism in the Tory Party, she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It’s over two years since I left politics and it feels like it’s got worse.”
Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has more:
Sam Hancock30 April 2022 09:27
Tory whips accused of ‘dither and delay’ in dealing with porn MP
Let’s hear more from Tory MP Caroline Nokes now, who has accused the Conservative whips of “dither and delay” in suspending Neil Parish from the parliamentary party over allegations he watched pornography in the Commons.
Two female colleagues reported Mr Parish to the chief whip, Chris Heaton-Harris, on Tuesday but his name was only made public on Friday.
“I felt by leaving it until Friday before we knew that action had been taken by the whips that it felt like unnecessary dither and delay,” Ms Nokes told BBC Radio 4.
Appearing on the Today programme after Ms Nokes, safeguarding minister Rachel Maclean additional: “I agree with pretty much everything that she said. I think it is right that action has been taken, that the chief whip has taken the action he has taken. There clearly needed to be some time to establish the veracity, the facts of the case.”
Told Mr Parish was not denying watching pornography, she said: “That’s right, he wasn’t.”
Sam Hancock30 April 2022 09:15
Senior Tory doubts Parish’s ability to conduct business while under review
A senior Tory MP says it will be “difficult” for Neil Parish to use the required time in parliament while he is under investigation for allegedly watching pornography in the Commons chamber.
Caroline Nokes, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, did not call for her colleague to closest stand down, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think it’s right those investigations are carried out before any further action is taken.”
However, when asked if Mr Parish should continue as a select committee chair, she said: “That’s a matter for Neil to discuss with the party whips and to take a position on, but I think whilst he’s under investigation it’s going to make it very difficult for him to be in the Commons as much as he needs to be.”
Mr Parish, who was named yesterday as the infamous porn-watching MP, currently chairs the ecosystem, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.
Sam Hancock30 April 2022 08:57
Watch: Parish speaks in Commons argue day after porn-watching allegation
Neil Parish MP speaks in Commons argue one day after porn-watching allegation
Sam Hancock30 April 2022 08:39
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