Owen Paterson: Sultana says issue 'smells like corruption'
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Labour MP Zarah Sultana has slammed Owen Paterson for misusing his position to benefit two companies he worked for, saying it “smells of corruption”, while Conservative MP Miriam Cates said she would not vote to suspend the fellow Tory MP. MPs are due to vote later on Wednesday on whether to endorse a recommendation from the Commons Standards Committee that Mr Paterson be suspended for 30 days.
Speaking on BBC Politics, MP Miriam Cates said: “At the end of the day, this is a conscience vote and in all conscience, I can’t accept that this is a fair process that it would stand up in court.”
Host Jo Coburn said: “It was a clear-cut case. As far as the committee was concerned, and they outlined that case in 175 pages.
“Three of the four conservative MPs on the committee voted for the 30-day suspension.
“They took account of mitigating factors including the death of Mr. Patterson’s wife and commented the while it doesn’t doubt that Mr. Patterson sincerely believes that he has acted properly, it was his conviction that there was no conflict between his private interest and the public interest that meant he failed to establish the proper boundaries.
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“Which bit of the rules needs to be rewritten?”
Ms Cates said: “The process. So the responsibilities of the commissioner.
“I’m not talking about the what’s in the report, which I have read, and I’ve read Mr Patterson’s defence
“And as I said, I’m not commenting on whether or not he’s guilty of the offenses.
“I’m commenting on-is this a good enough process when actually it wouldn’t stand up in other workplaces in our country. And when we as MPs have probably been actively trying to change the process.”
The host then asked: “If it was a Labour MP in this particular situation, would you be making such a passionate case for the whole system to be reformed?”
Ms Cates answered: “Well, I very much hope I would, and obviously, you can’t test me on that.
“But I very much hope I work for the exact reasons that I’ve just said and I think and as I said, I am aware of how this looks.
“And of course that brings the temptation to vote against the amendment and to accept the committee and I think there’s a strong argument for why haven’t we done this before?”
“The process is what the parliamentary system has had for many years.
“And suddenly now when a well-connected Conservative MP, who’s mates with Boris Johnson has been found guilty of using his position inappropriately being paid three times his salary to lobby for those companies.
“You know, and the standards committee which has passed this report, has approved this report and finds its conclusions correct.
“Now we’re having a conversation about changing the system.
“It seems like it really is one rule for them and one will for the rest of us and I don’t think anyone watching this will find this acceptable-it stinks and it smells of corruption.”
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