British MP gets suspension over secret Sri Lanka freebies from Rajapaksa regime
ECONOMYNEXT – A British legislator faced suspension Wednesday for failing to disclose free luxury holidays he and his family received from the then government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in exchange for backing Colombo at the human rights council.
Ian Paisley Jr of the Democratic Unionist Party was suspended from 30 sittings of the House of Commons, or for nearly two months, in a move that further reduced Prime Minister Theresa May’s majority at a critical time for her shaky government.
He was found guilty of breaking Westminster rules over luxury trips worth over 100,000 pounds (22 million rupees) at the cost of Sri Lankan tax payers in 2013.
Paisley failed to register the trips before writing to then prime minister David Cameron in support of the Sri Lankan government about a proposed United Nations resolution at the Human Rights Council, British media reports said.
“The 30-day suspension, if confirmed by a Commons vote, is thought to be the longest period any MP has been barred from the Commons for 15 years,” the Independent newspaper said.
The “severe” punishment has been imposed on the senior Democratic Unionist Party MP after he took his family on all-expenses-paid holidays to Sri Lanka in 2013.
It also exposes Paisley to the danger of being “recalled” by his constituents, under legislation passed in 2015, which would trigger a by-election.
“In view of the seriousness of this matter, we recommend that Mr Paisley be suspended from the service of the House for a period of 30 sitting days starting on 4 September 2018,” said the Commons standards committee.
His actions amounted to ‘paid advocacy’ and ‘bring the House of Commons into disrepute’, a damning report concluded.
Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s go-to foreign policy guy, Sajin Vass Gunawardena, had arranged several influential foreign dignitaries to visit Sri Lanka and extracted statements from them supporting the country at a time when the regime faced international isolation. (COLOMBO, July 18, 2018)