Neil Parish: MP resigns as he admits watching porn in Commons | Political news

An MP has said he will resign after admitting to watching pornography in the House of Commons.

Neil Parish said he had watched adult material in parliament twice, saying the first time was accidental after watching tractors online, but the second was “a moment of madness”.

The 65-year-old farmer originally vowed to remain MP for Tiverton and Honiton but said he would step down after acknowledging the ‘fury’ and ‘damage’ he was causing his family and his constituency.

‘It was tractors I was watching’: Tory MP says he watched porn accidentally – Reuters

The scandal comes amid accusations of misogyny and sexual misconduct at Westminster.

A spokesperson for the Tiverton and Honiton Conservatives said: ‘We would like to take this opportunity to thank Neil Parish for his service to our communities over the past 12 years.

“We support his decision to resign as an MP. »

According to Sky News deputy political editor Sam Coates, friends of Mr Parish are said to be unhappy with the way he kept quiet and allowed speculation to form about his party colleagues.

The former MEP had spoke to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standardsdays after two female Tory MPs said they saw him watching pornography on his mobile phone on two separate occasions.

The departure of Mr Parish, who also chaired the Commons Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, will trigger a by-election in what has been a safe Tory seat.

Mr Parish, who has represented the Devon constituency since 2010, was elected in 2019 with a majority of 24,239 votes, securing 60% of the vote.

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Friends of the 65-year-old are said to be unhappy with the way he remained silent and allowed speculation to form about his colleagues

Who is Neil Paris?

A farmer by training, Neil Parish has been MP for Tiverton and Honiton since 2010. Before that, he was an MEP.

Father of two children and grandfather of two children, he still lives on the family farm.

In the last election, he held a large majority of 24,239 votes, obtaining 60% of the votes.

Throughout her political career, her goal has “always been to advocate for residents and be a strong voice for the campaign,” her website bio states.

He was Chairman of the Commons Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and in this capacity also served on the powerful Liaison Committee.

Mr Parish campaigned to stay in the EU as he said he believed it was ‘the best option for British farming’. However, he promised to “fight tooth and nail” to get the best Brexit deal for farmers.

But it will be a key target for the Liberal Democrats looking to cause another upheaval like the one in North Shropshire following the Owen Paterson lobbying scandal.

In an interview with the BBC, a tearful Mr Parish said: “I thought I could explain to the standards committee what happened and it would be worth explaining what happened… but at the end, I could see that the fury and damage I was causing my family, my constituency and my association, just wasn’t worth continuing. »

He added: “The situation was that, oddly enough, it was tractors I was looking at, and so I went into another website with a very similar name and looked at it for a bit, which I didn’t. shouldn’t have done.

“But my crime, my biggest crime, is that on another occasion, I went there a second time, and it was deliberate.

“It was sitting waiting to vote on the side of the chamber. »

When asked why he did it, Mr Parish said it was “a moment of madness, and also totally wrong”.

Mr Parish said he wanted to record ‘for all my rights and wrongs, I was not proud of what I did and the one thing I didn’t do, which I will take to my grave as true , is that I was not making sure that people could see it”.

“In fact, I was trying to do the complete opposite,” he insisted.

He said: “I was wrong about what I was doing, but this idea that I was there watching it, bullying women, I mean I’m 12 in parliament and I probably have the one of the best reputations of all time – or that I had. »

The real damage is probably done to politics as a whole

Rob Powell political journalist

Rob Powell

Political correspondent

@robpowellnews

Neil Parish must have known the moment news of the ‘porn deputy’ surfaced that he couldn’t stay in his job.

His admission today that he deliberately looked at explicit documents while waiting to vote in the Commons is an outrageous development, even against the backdrop of current outrageous standards in Westminster.

So ultimately his resignation was probably still inevitable.

But as is often the case in politics, what drove him away today was his sloppy handling – and no doubt that of his party – of this scandal.

Accusations that someone had viewed pornography in the Commons were first raised at a meeting on Tuesday.

Yet it took three days for Neil Parish to be identified and suspended.

Senior MPs say that during this period several of their colleagues were linked to the allegations, causing a lot of trauma.

Not only did Mr Parish not identify himself, but he also went on television to demand that the investigation into the “anonymous MP” be allowed to take its course.

But it’s not just about him, the government and the Conservative Party could also have acted faster.

We know the Chief Whip – responsible for discipline among MPs – was at that meeting on Tuesday.

He therefore had direct knowledge of the allegations and yet initially he did not suspend Mr Parish or make his name public.

Where we are going is that the government is fighting another by-election.

This one occupies a safe Conservative seat.

But the vote share in Tiverton and Honiton is strikingly similar to that of North Shropshire, where the Lib Dems caused a massive upheaval after another Tory quit last year.

Have no doubt that Ed Davey’s party will be pushing in Devon and have already called for a quick vote.

The real damage of this disgraceful debacle will likely be done to politics as a whole.

When asked why he chose to see the material in the Commons, he said: ‘I don’t know, I think I had to completely take time off from my senses, my sensitivity and my sense of decency, everything. »

Mr Parish said he was ‘not defending what I did for a moment’, saying he believed the best thing he could do was ‘tell the truth’.

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But mocking the MP’s explanation on Twitter, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: ‘He was looking for tractors but ended up with porn actors?

“Neil Parish must think you were all born yesterday. Boris Johnson’s Tories are a national embarrassment. »

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