May's Brexit majority in peril after DUP MP suspended for sleaze
Ian Paisley Jr. has been given a months suspension from Parliament, the longest since 1949, in a heavy blow for the Prime Minister going into key Brexit votes in September.
According to reports in the Daily Telegraph last year, North Antrim MP had enjoyed £100,000's worth of hospitality at the behest of the Sri Lankan government, keen to repair its international image after a long civil war between the central authorities and Tamil rebels groups in the North.
The parliamentary standards watchdog found that Mr Paisley failed to register the two 2013 trips, then later engaged in "paid advocacy" on behalf of Sri Lanka in a 2014.
"We have concluded that Mr Paisley’s actions were of a nature to bring the House of Commons into disrepute," the Commons Standards Committee said.
"We conclude that Mr Paisley has committed serious misconduct."
The judgement also begins the process of a constituency recall in North Antrim, where Mr. Paisley would find himself stripped of his position if 10 percent of voters sign a petition calling for his removal.
A statement issued by Mr Paisley's lawyer read: "My client has apologised unreservedly at the outset for his unintentional failure to register the hospitality he received.
"While accepting the decision of the House Standards Committee, he nonetheless continues to take issue with the sensationalised report in the Daily Telegraph.
"Legal proceedings are being considered.
"No further comment will be made until Mr Paisley has addressed the House on Thursday."
The suspension still has to be ratified by MPs before it takes effect, but would seriously weaken the PM in upcoming Brexit votes by removing one of the ten MPs the DUP has pledged to use to support Theresa May's Brexit plans in return for the notorious DUP-Tory agreement which saw an extra £1bn put aside for use in Northern Ireland.
Paisley has been a controversial figure in Northern Irish politics, and had come under investigation after it was found that he was employed by his father, Ian Paisley Sr., as a researcher whilst acting as an MLA and Junior Minister in Stormont. He later resigned from his position in order to run for the Westminster seat of North Antrim. Paisley was also amongst the highest claimants of parliamentary expenses, claiming £1,112,667 from 2010 to 2015.