Tory MP: 'Optics aren't great' on move to save Owen Paterson from suspension

3 November 2021, 19:29 | Updated: 3 November 2021, 21:57

By Seán Hickey

This Conservative MP, who voted to save Owen Paterson from suspension, admitted to Eddie Mair that the move doesn't shower the government in glory.

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MPs voted earlier today to pause a recommended six-week suspension of Tory MP Owen Paterson after he was found guilty of breaching lobbying rules. The vote included a commitment to a review of commons standards investigations.

Read more: 'Wallowing in sleaze': MPs save Tory from suspension in lobbying scandal

"Let me put it to you like this, the commissioner was, if you like, judge, the committee was jury, and they both said Owen Paterson was guilty." Eddie Mair said to Philip Dunne, who voted with government to save Owen Paterson from suspension.

"Then, and this is how it looks to some of our listeners, Owen Paterson's pals said that they disagree, and so the plan is now, maybe sack the judge, and just appoint a different jury."

Read more: Andrew Castle puts James Cleverly on spot over PM conduct amid Tory sleaze claims

"That's not an accurate analogy", Mr Dunne insisted. Noting that MPs believed Mr Paterson's assertion that he didn't appropriately defend himself in a committee hearing into his successful lobbying of parliamentarians.

"You'd think for someone who is such a great lobbyist, he'd do a better job of representing himself?" Eddie wondered.

"I can't comment on the specifics of the case" the Tory MP said. "He put his arguments forward, he believes there are errors in the commissioner's report".

Read more: 'Time's up - the racket's over': Angela Rayner takes aim at Tories over contract spending

"Maybe if his constituents were paying him an extra £9,000 a day he'd do a better job speaking for himself" Eddie thought. He then proceeded to read out the texts of LBC listeners, many of whom believed the vote to be evidence of corruption in government.

Read more: Boris Johnson: 'I make no apology at all' over Sir James Dyson 'tax issue' texts

"The optics aren't great, but the process is flawed" Mr Dunne said, insisting that "the process needs to be fixed".

"Can I suggest to you, finally, that actually the optics are great, the optics will be filling the gin and tonic glasses in Westminster tonight, his pals have got him off?"

"I don't think that's the case" Mr Dunne shrugged.

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