Ian Paisley, an MP from the Northern Ireland-based Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on whose support the Theresa May government depends for survival, was at the centre of a row on Friday over his alleged undeclared family holidays in Sri Lanka that were paid for by Colombo.
The House of Commons code of conduct states MPs must declare any visit to a destination outside the UK which “relates in any way to their membership of the house or to their parliamentary or political activities”, and which costs more than £300.
MPs do not have to register family holidays if they are “wholly unconnected with membership of the house or with the member’s parliamentary or political activities”.
Paisley’s holidays, reportedly worth £100,000 in hospitality from the Sri Lanka government, was the subject of the main story in The Daily Telegraph, but he promptly denied it and referred himself to the parliamentary standards commissioner.
He later reportedly met Sri Lankan representatives to discuss trade deals after Brexit.
Paisley said the report was “devoid of fact or logic” and “defamatory”, while a DUP spokesman said: “Ian Paisley MP will rightly refer himself to the (Parliamentary) Commissioner for Standards. We await the outcome of that investigation.”
The newspaper reported the Paisley family flew business class to Sri Lanka and stayed in luxurious hotels, and claimed the costs and expenses were paid for by the Sri Lankan government. There was no word on the issue from the Sri Lankan embassy in London.
The DUP extended support to May after the Conservative Party failed to win a majority in the June 8 general election. The agreement with the DUP includes allocating additional funds for Northern Ireland over the next two years.