Change of rules to save Owen Paterson from suspension an outrageous breach of public trust

Owen Paterson MP

The Conservatives have forced a last-minute change of the rules to brush aside the recommendation of Parliament’s Standards Committee to suspend Owen Paterson for 30 days. This was despite him having been found to have brought Parliament into disrepute by the cross-party committee, when he lobbied for two companies who directly employed him while also the MP for North Shropshire. He will now avoid a recall petition and potential by-election.

Helen Morgan (Lib Dem Spokesperson for North Shropshire) said: “It is outrageous that big companies can employ an MP to influence policy and help them benefit from that connection. Yet again the Conservatives have shown their total disregard for democracy by effectively condoning paid advocacy. Mr Paterson does not deny that he lobbied for companies who paid him more than £100k per year, more than his MP’s salary.

“It is yet another example of the Conservatives riding roughshod over the standards we should be able to expect in public life.

“North Shropshire voters chose Mr Paterson in December 2019 and this scandal is a clear breach of their trust. It’s difficult to see how he can continue to be an effective MP in these circumstances.

“We have knocked on a lot of doors this year, and even in rural Conservative heartlands like The Meres, voters have repeatedly told us that they have lost trust in the Conservatives to serve their communities rather than their own interests.  This scandal will only confirm that feeling.”

Owen Paterson at the Market Drayton Hustings in 2019 with Helen Morgan addressing the audience.

In North Shropshire, the May local elections saw the Conservatives win 53.7% to the second-placed Liberal Democrats on 19.5%. Harmer Hill resident Helen Morgan stood for the Lib Dems in 2019 successfully doubling the vote, and is one of the five North Shropshire Liberal Democrat candidates who came within a handful of votes of winning this May, nearly taking The Meres – a rural Conservative heartland division.

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