Owen Paterson's resignation statement in full as MP stands down
Read Owen Paterson's resignation statement in full as the MP stands down after 24 years.
The Conservative announced his decision to resign as the MP for North Shropshire on Thursday while facing the prospect of suspension for breaking paid lobbying rules.
He said his family had asked him to stand down after an "indescribable nightmare" over two years of investigation, during which his wife Rose committed suicide.
His full resignation statement was as follows:
"I have today, after consultation with my family, and with much sadness decided to resign as the MP for North Shropshire.
"The last two years have been an indescribable nightmare for my family and me.
"My integrity, which I hold very dear, has been repeatedly and publicly questioned.
"I maintain that I am totally innocent of what I have been accused of and I acted at all times in the interests of public health and safety.
"I, my family and those closest to me know the same. I am unable to clear my name under the current system.
"Far, far worse than having my honesty questioned was, of course, the suicide of my beloved and wonderful wife, Rose.
"She was everything to my children and me.
"We miss her everyday and the world will always be grey, sad and ultimately meaningless without her.
"The last few days have been intolerable for us. Worst of all was seeing people, including MPs, publicly mock and deride Rose's death and belittle our pain.
"My children have therefore asked me to leave politics altogether, for my sake as well as theirs.
"I agree with them. I do not want my wife's memory and reputation to become a political football.
"Above all, I always put my family first.
"This is a painful decision but I believe the right one. I have loved being the MP for North Shropshire and have considered it a privilege to have been elected to serve my constituents for 24 years.
"I would like to thank my staff who have worked for me so loyally over many years.
"I also want to thank those who have stood by me so staunchly. I wish them all the best in that difficult but vital job of being a Member of Parliament.
"I will remain a public servant but outside the cruel world of politics. I intend to devote myself to public service in whatever ways I can but especially in the world of suicide prevention.
"At this incredibly difficult time for my family, we ask that the media respects our privacy and lets us grieve my beloved Rose, the best person I ever met."