Ian Paisley faces fresh questions over payment of Maldives trips

DUP MP said in 2018 he paid for part of holiday and the rest was paid for by a friend

Ian Paisley was suspended from the House of Commons in 2018 for 30 days for ‘serious misconduct’ over Sri Lanka trip. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Ian Paisley was suspended from the House of Commons in 2018 for 30 days for ‘serious misconduct’ over Sri Lanka trip. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

A British parliamentary standards watchdog has been urged to re-investigate the DUP’s Ian Paisley after another series of claims about luxury foreign holidays.

A number of Northern Ireland politicians urged the UK parliamentary commissioner for standards, Kathryn Stone, to examine the allegations levelled against the North Antrim MP.

Mr Paisley’s party leader, Arlene Foster, acknowledged that “serious issues” had been raised in Tuesday’s night’s BBC Spotlight programme about his trips to the Maldives.

The programme claimed one of a number of undeclared luxury family holidays Mr Paisley reportedly took was paid for by a former minister in the Maldives government, while another trip had also been complimentary.

Mr Paisley was suspended from the House of Commons in 2018 for 30 days for “serious misconduct” for failing to declare two family holidays to Sri Lanka in 2013. He survived parliament’s first ever recall petition.

Investigation

Mrs Foster said the fresh claims would be investigated by party officers. “As you know Ian was suspended for 57 days last year by the party,” she said. “He is now back in the party under sanction and those sanctions still exist. But we will look at that and deal with those serious issues that have been raised by the Spotlight programme.”

Sinn Féin MLA for North Antrim Philip McGuigan urged Ms Stone to investigate. “Another tearful ‘mea culpa’ apology from Ian Paisley just isn’t going to be enough,” he said. “These allegations are gravely serious and they need to be treated as such by the authorities and Ian Paisley’s own party.”

Mr Paisley is the son of the late Ian Paisley.

Last December, BBC Spotlight raised queries over who paid for a luxury holiday the DUP MP and his family took to the Coco Bodu Hithi resort in the nation in 2016.

Mr Paisley said then that he paid for part of the holiday and the rest was paid for by a friend. He did not reveal the identity of this friend, but added that the friend was unconnected with his work and had received no benefit as a result of his work.

On Tuesday night, a follow-up BBC Spotlight programme, Paisley In Paradise Revisited, reported that the friend was Dr Mohamed Shainee, who at the time of Mr Paisley’s trip to Coco Bodu Hithi was the Maldives fisheries and agriculture minister. Dr Shainee told the programme he did not pay for the trip.

However, the programme reported that in a statement, Sunland Hotels which owns the resort, told them: “In 2016, Mohamed Shainee requested Sunland Hotels co-owner Hussain Hilmy for a rate at one of the company’s resorts . . . Shainee settled the payment for Ian Paisley’s stay at the head office.”

BBC Spotlight also raised questions about other visits it reported that Mr Paisley made to the Maldives. – PA