DUP MP Ian Paisley has started his 30-day suspension from the House of Commons.
The North Antrim representative was handed a record parliamentary ban for failing to declare the lavish family trips paid for by the Sri Lankan government, then lobbying UK ministers to prevent an international inquiry into the country’s human rights violations.
Mr Paisley declared himself “embarrassed” and apologised to his constituents back in July after the House of Commons’ Standards Committee found his actions amounted to “serious misconduct”.
MPs voted to suspend the DUP man, and the sanction officially begins today as the Commons returns from its summer recess.
Mr Paisley also faces the prospect of losing his seat if a sufficient proportion of the North Antrim electorate decide to sign a public petition to remove him as MP.
If 10% of the electorate – in North Antrim that would currently be 7,737 people – sign the recall petition, a by-election would be triggered.
Mr Paisley, who has also been suspended by his party, has vowed to fight any by-election, where he will be defending a majority of more than 20,000.
In a statement to the Commons back in July, Mr Paisley insisted that he had “no ulterior motive for that genuine mistake” not to declare the two expensive holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.
He also addressed the people of North Antrim, stating: “It is to my constituents, Mr Speaker, who have sent me here since 2010, that I make the profoundest of all apologies. “They have honoured me with unwavering support to be their voice and I hope they will continue to have that confidence in me in the future.”
The recall petition – the first of its kind in the UK – is due to close on September 19 and is available for signing on weekdays from 9am to 5pm in centres in Ballymoney, Ballymena and Ballycastle.