Neil Parish resigns after admitting watching porn in parliament

Neil Parish has resigned as an MP after admitting that he watched pornography twice on his phone in the House of Commons chamber.

The Conservatives had suspended him on Friday. The resignation will trigger a by-election in his seat of Tiverton and Honiton in Devon.

Parish, chair of the Commons environment committee, was identified as the person whom two female MPs complained about, three days after the pornography allegations against an unnamed parliamentarian first surfaced.

The allegations against Parish that he watched pornography on his phone are being investigated by the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme, a parliamentary watchdog established after a sexual harassment scandal at Westminster in 2017.

The watchdog looks into complaints relating to current and former MPs and their staff.

Parish had reported himself to Kathryn Stone, the parliamentary commissioner for standards and on Friday said he would continue his duties as a constituency MP.

On Saturday Parish told the BBC the incident had been a “moment of madness.”

He said the first incident was accidental, “it was tractors I was looking at,” but admitted the second occasion was deliberate. “What I did was absolutely totally wrong.”

The claims against Parish came to light at a meeting on Tuesday where female MPs shared their experiences of sexism in parliament.

Parish told the BBC: “It was not my intention to intimidate.”

There has been a series of claims of misconduct involving MPs, with much of it focused on misogyny. Anne-Marie Trevelyan, international trade secretary, on Friday revealed she had been subjected to “wandering hands” by half a dozen men at Westminster.

Trevelyan said most of her male colleagues were delightful, committed parliamentarians but said others believed that “they can suddenly please themselves” at Westminster.

“We might describe it as wandering hands, if you like. We might describe it as, you know, a number of years ago being pinned up against a wall by a male MP who is now no longer in the House, I’m pleased to say, declaring that I must want him because he was a powerful man,” she told LBC Radio.

“These sorts of things, these power abuses, that a very small minority, thank goodness, of male colleagues show is completely unacceptable.”

Suella Braverman, attorney-general, said on Thursday most men she had worked with were respectable but a small minority were “out of order” and “behave like animals and are bringing parliament into disrepute”.

Imran Ahmad Khan, Conservative MP for Wakefield, was this month convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008. He was expelled from the Tory party.

David Warburton, Conservative MP for Somerton and Frome, had the whip suspended this month after it transpired he was under investigation for alleged sexual harassment.

Liam Byrne, a former Labour minister, is to be suspended from the Commons after Stone said in a report on Thursday that he had bullied a former member of his staff.

Meanwhile, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner belatedly admitted she attended an event in Durham in April last year during a Covid-19 lockdown where party leader Sir Keir Starmer was photographed with a beer. The party said a previous denial had been “a mistake made in good faith”.

In response to a request by a Conservative MP, Durham Police has agreed to “make inquiries” with officers who first examined claims against Starmer and concluded he had broken no lockdown rules. Labour has said the April 2020 event was related to work.


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