Conservative MP Neil Parish suspended after accusations of watching porn in Commons

Suspended Conservative MP Neil Parish is facing calls to resign after being identified as the individual facing allegations of watching pornography in the Commons chamber.

It comes after politicians of all stripes reacted with outrage at the claims first made privately by two female Tory MPs during a meeting with the party officials on Tuesday evening.

Ending days of rife speculation over the identity of the individual alleged to have watched porn, Mr Parish the MP for Tiverton and Honiton since 2010, had the whip suspended on Friday.

The 65-year-old, who also chairs the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, has now reported himself to the parliamentary commissioner for standards.

The commissioner, Kathryn Stone, may launch a probe if she believes Mr Parish caused “significant damage to the reputation and integrity” of the House of Commons.

A second investigation by the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS) — established in the wake of the Me Too scandal — was launched after the allegations surfaced.

But the senior Labour MP Harriet Harman insisted Mr Parish should resign “right away” if the allegations are true, saying the incident was a “new low” for the House of Commons.

Ms Harman, the Mother of the House — the longest serving female MP — told BBC Radio 4 PM programme: “If this is what he has done, he should stand down from Parliament right away.

“It’s not right for him to go through the investigation process if that is what he has done. Clearly he is not fit to be in Parliament. He should accept that and not drag the processes out”.

A statement on Mr Parish’s website, however, made clear he will stay on as an MP and fulfil his “duties” to his constituents.

It read: “Following allegations of an MP’s use of their mobile phone in Parliament, I have referred myself to the parliamentary commissioner for standards in the House of Commons.

“I will be cooperating fully with any investigation, and whilst it is ongoing I will continue to perform my duties as MP for Tiverton and Honiton. I will not be making further comments at this stage.”

The chief whip added: “Mr Parish has been suspended from the Conservative Party pending the outcome of that investigation”.

After his suspension, it also emerged Mr Parish was asked about the allegation that an MP had watched porn in the Commons chamber, telling GB News it should be treated “seriously”.

In the interview Mr Paris also denied there was a cultural problem of misogyny in Parliament — but said some MPs might “step over the line”.

“I think the whip’s office will do a thorough investigation and we will wait and see that result and I think from that, then the decision will have to be made what action should be taken,” he said.

Asked if there was a culture of misogyny in Parliament, Mr Parish replied: “When you’ve got 650 members of Parliament in what is a very intense area, you are going to get people that step over the line.

“I don’t think there’s necessarily a huge culture here but I think it does have to be dealt with and dealt with seriously and I think that’s what the whips will do.”

The move by the chief whip on Friday followed accusations that the Conservatives were failing to act against the MP alleged to have watched porn in the House of Commons, with demands for action from some Tory MPs and Westminster opposition parties.

Labour’s shadow leader of the Commons, Thangam Debbonaire MP, said: “The Conservatives knew for days about the disgusting behaviour of one of their MPs and tried to cover it up.

“From the Owen Paterson scandal to their failure to act against their paedophile MP Imran Ahmad Khan, this is a government rotting from the head down. Britain deserves better.”

Daisy Cooper, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, added: “If Boris Johnson had any shred of decency left, he would tell Neil Parish to resign immediately.

“In any other workplace this would count as gross misconduct and the person responsible would lose their job. Parliament should be no different.

“We don’t need to insult the women MPs who witnessed this with a lengthy investigation. All his bosses need to do is ask for his devices and look at his viewing history, this isn’t rocket science.”

The pornography claims come amid renewed focus on misconduct and misogyny in Parliament and reports at the weekend that 56 MPs, — including three cabinet ministers — are facing sexual misconduct claims that have been referred to the ICGS.

Women’s charities have warned that Westminster’s working culture is “in the gutter”. The CEO of charity refugee told The Independentthe last seven days had been a “difficult week for women”.

Some female MPs have also detailed the sexual harassment they have experienced, including cabinet minister Anne Marie-Trevelyan, who told LBC on Friday that a male MP once pinned her against a wall and told her she “wants him”.

The international trade secretary said female MPs were still subjected to “wandering hands”, later adding: “It’s never okay anywhere. I’s not okay in Westminster either. If you’re a bloke — keep your hands in your pockets”.

Suella Braverman, the attorney general, added that a minority of men in politics “behave like animals” and were bringing Parliament into disrepute with unacceptable behaviour.

Before Mr Parish was identified and had the whip suspended for allegedly watching porn in the Commons chamber she said she was “ashamed this person is carrying the Conservative rosette”.

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