West Norfolk MPs slammed over Owen Paterson vote
West Norfolk’s MPs have come under fire after they voted in favour of moves to reject a standards verdict into one of their Conservative colleagues.
Liz Truss and James Wild both supported proposals to review Parliamentary procedures and prevent a suspension being implemented against the former Cabinet minister, Owen Paterson, during the controversial vote on Wednesday afternoon.
This afternoon, Mr Paterson announced he would resign as an MP hours after the Government staged a U-turn, saying its plans to reform standards procedures would not proceed without cross-party support.
All opposition parties had indicated they would not co-operate with a new committee the Government proposed to set up.
But West Norfolk Liberal Democrats chairman, and Norfolk county councillor, Rob Colwell, said the impact of the vote could not be undone.
He said: “As far as I’m concerned the U-turn is irrelevant as the damage is done and it’s on the record.
“This Conservative Government and its careerist payroll MPs voted for sleaze and to excuse Tory corruption in British politics. This isn’t going away.”
Independent borough councillor Jo Rust added: “It was a huge mistake for them to believe that they could get away with this with no adverse reaction.
“This was self serving and displays their underlying ethos, which is to look after themselves and their friends in big business.”
An investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone found Mr Paterson, a former Environment and Northern Ireland Secretary, had repeatedly lobbied ministers and officials on behalf of two companies for which he was acting as a paid consultant – Randox, and Lynn’s Country Foods.
The Commons Standards Committee said his actions were an “egregious” breach of the rules on paid advocacy by MPs and recommended that he should be suspended for 30 sitting days.
But Mr Paterson accused Ms Stone of making up her mind before she had even spoken to him.
He called the process “biased” and “not fair” and said the Commissioner had refused to hear from 17 witnesses who supported him.
He also said the manner of the investigation had “undoubtedly” played a “major role” in the decision of his wife Rose to take her own life last year.
Critics of the standards process say there is no appeals process, and those investigations take too long.
The Lynn News has contacted the constituency offices of both Ms Truss and Mr Wild to ask them to explain their vote, but has yet to receive a response.