Ian Paisley Jnr facing fresh allegations over foreign travel

DUP MP was suspended from Westminster earlier this year over trips to Sri Lanka

DUP MP Ian Paisley Jnr apologising to the House of Commons in London for failing to register two family holidays funded by the Sri Lankan government earlier this year. File photograph: PA Wire.

DUP MP Ian Paisley Jnr apologising to the House of Commons in London for failing to register two family holidays funded by the Sri Lankan government earlier this year. File photograph: PA Wire.

 

Democratic Unionist Party MP Ian Paisley Jnr, whose seat in Westminster was under threat earlier this year over his non-declaration of holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government, is facing fresh allegations over foreign travel.

BBC Spotlight reported on Tuesday night that Mr Paisley was given a complimentary holiday in October and November 2016 at a luxury Maldives resort months after advocating on behalf of its government.

Members of the House of Commons voted in July to suspend Mr Paisley for 30 sittings over the Sri Lankan holidays in 2013 and subsequent lobbying of then prime minister David Cameron not to support a UN resolution criticising human rights abuses in the country.

He was readmitted to the DUP in September after a petition to unseat him following his suspension fell short but the party said he would be “subject to a number of conditions” including a ban on holding office within the party for 12 months.

Responding to the BBC allegations, Mr Paisley said he paid for part of the holiday and the rest was paid for by a friend whose identity he did not disclose.

He denied the trip, on which he was accompanied by his wife and two sons, was connected to the government of the Maldives.

“I have responded in clear and categoric terms to your questions,” Mr Paisley said in a statement to the BBC.

“For the record, the government of the Maldives did not organise or pay for my family vacation in 2016, which I do not intend to go into with you. I’m satisfied the vacation did not have to be recorded on the register (of MPs interests).”

Mr Paisley said that “both the government of the Maldives and the hotel resort in question have confirmed the government played no part in arranging or paying for my visit”.

The holiday came months after Mr Paisley and two other MPs visited the Maldives.

At the time, the country was subject to criticism from organisations including the United Nations and the Commonwealth over human rights abuses.

Mr Paisley appeared, however, to advocate on behalf of the regime, arguing against economic sanctions.