An inquiry conducted by United Kingdom’s parliamentary commissioner for standards has found that North Antrim MP, Ian Paisley had broken rules in relation to a visit to the Maldives islands.
The British Broadcasting Corporation, or BBC reported that the 2016 trip was funded by Maldives’ then-Fisheries Minister Dr. Mohamed Shainee. Paisley had challenged the news corporation to submit evidence related to the claims.
While it was previously reported that Paisley and his family’s five-day stay was facilitated by a shareholder of Sunland Hotels, Hussain Hilmy, a statement sent by the company obtained by BBC reads, “the co-owner Mr Hilmy was informed the booking was for a private stay for a personal acquaintance of Mr Shainee, Ian Paisley and his family.”
BBC emphasized that the holiday came eight months after Paisley visited the country and lobbied on the government’s behalf, which was also noted in the investigation by the parliamentary standards watchdog.
UK lawmakers are required to register any overseas travel for which they have not paid themselves and that could be seen to be connected to their work, the investigation found that Paisley had failed to do so.
However, he will not face any sanctions as Commissioner Kathryn Stone found that there is a "balance of probabilities that a corporate body rather than a personal friend of Mr Paisley's had absorbed the cost of the hospitality.”
Noting that she was persuaded that receiving complimentary rooms might be considered as an attempt to influence the MP, Stone concluded that the trip “was not funded by a foreign government and the MP did not break any rules on paid advocacy.”
However, she said that Paisley and his family received a benefit “which should have been registered in the Register of Members' Financial Interests.”
Paisley is to have apologized to her for not declaring the trip, as well as for delaying her inquiry.
The DUP politician was under fire for refusing to disclose the identity of the mystery friend that paid for the trip, and was even suspended from parliament for 30 sitting days last year for failing to declare two family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government in 2013.