Shropshire MP Owen Paterson speaks out in 'sex toys' row over Commons colleague

Shropshire Conservative MP Owen Paterson has said it is incumbent on Members of Parliament to behave properly after the latest revelations from Westminster.

Owen Paterson
Owen Paterson

International Trade Minister Mark Garnier is facing an investigation into whether he broke ministerial rules after he admitted asking his secretary to buy sex toys.

Wyre Forest MP Mr Garnier said his actions, which included calling former secretary Caroline Edmondson by an inappropriate nickname, could look like “dinosaur behaviour” in the current climate. But he said those actions did not constitute harassment.

Tory Mr Paterson said that if there was any allegation of an legal offence the Whips’ Office should take it further.

Speaking to Niall Paterson on Sky News he said the action taken by the Whips Office depended on the severity of the offence or the activity.

“In some cases, some of these recently reported activities, are obviously totally inappropriate but the individuals concerned have apologised.

“But there might be, for all I know, offences which are more serious in which case perhaps the Whips’ Office should take it further.”

“It is obviously incumbent on MPs to behave properly but as I said there are certain areas where I think an admission of guilt and a full public apology is right. But if the Whips are privy to much more serious allegations where an actual legal offence might have been called, perhaps they then have to take it further.”

The Cabinet Office is to look at whether the Ministerial Code of Conduct has been breached.

The latest ‘men behaving badly’ accusation to come out of the House of Commons coincides with the Prime Minister expected to write to Commons Speaker John Bercow, calling for a new contractually-binding grievance procedure to be set up for all MPs and their staff.

Theresa May will ask the speaker for advice on how the culture at Westminster can be changed.

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