Owen Paterson resigns from business roles after stepping down as MPNovember 5, 2021
Now scandal-hit Owen Paterson resigns from his business roles after stepping down as MP
- Owen Paterson quit his consultancy work with Randox and Lynn’s Country Foods
- Downing Street however didn’t rule out the possibility of him receiving peerage
- Mr Paterson announced he was ‘stepping aside’ from the roles online last night
Third of MPs have side roles
As many as one in three MPs earn money outside of Parliament.
Research has shown 237 of the 650 MPs declared outside earnings in the year to March.
Analysis by the website Open Democracy found that between them they received £4.9 million on top of their parliamentary salaries.
Among the highest earners were former prime minister Theresa May, who was paid £616,000 for giving speeches, and former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox, who gets £400,000 a year as a consultant to legal giant Withers.
There are growing calls for restrictions to be placed on such roles. Green MP Caroline Lucas told Question Time: ‘The idea you can find time for a part-time job that’s going to pay you £100,000 on top of being an MP, I find quite preposterous.’
Scandal-hit Owen Paterson quit his lucrative consultancy work yesterday amid a deepening row over his roles.
The disgraced former Cabinet minister announced he was ‘stepping aside’ from his consultancy roles with a health firm and a sausage manufacturer after he was found to have lobbied ministers and officials on their behalf.
But despite being forced to leave his jobs and stand down as an MP this week, Downing Street refused to rule out the possibility of him receiving a peerage.
Mr Paterson, Northern Ireland secretary and environment secretary under the Coalition, had been paid £100,000 a year for 16 hours’ work each month advising Randox Laboratories since 2015, plus £12,000 a year for 24 hours a year by Lynn’s Country Foods for the past five years.
The 65-year-old, whose wife Rose took her own life last year, wrote online: ‘Thank you to the manDr Py people who have sent their kind wishes to me and my family this week.
‘At this difficult time, I will be stepping aside from my current consultancy work to focus on my family and suicide prevention.’
It is understood he took the decision to quit the jobs himself and was not forced out. Lynn’s declined to comment while Randox said: ‘Randox acknowledge Mr Paterson’s wish at this difficult time to step aside from his consultancy work to focus on his family and suicide prevention.
‘We wish Owen and his family well in their future endeavours.’
The Standards Commissioner investigation that ended his career found Mr Paterson had breached the ban on ‘paid advocacy’ – lobbying – by contacting the Food Standards Agency three times on behalf of Randox and approaching aid ministers four times to promote its blood tests.
Owen Paterson, right, with Dr Peter FitzGerald. Mr Paterson had been paid £100,000 a year for 16 hours’ work each month advising Randox Laboratories since 2015
He also used his Commons office 25 times for business meetings with both Randox and Lynn’s.
However, the inquiry did not consider a meeting he had with Randox and the minister who is responsible for Covid testing supplies at the start of the pandemic.
Mr Paterson was party to a call with Lord Bethell and the firm in April last year, shortly after it won its first contract to provide Covid tests.
Government sources said at the time it was merely a ‘courtesy call’ from the minister after the contract had been signed.
The Standards Commissioner investigation that ended his career found Mr Paterson had breached the ban on ‘paid advocacy’
Opposition parties have ruled out standing a Martin Bell-style ‘anti-sleaze’ candidate who could steal Owen Paterson’s seat and its 22,949 majority from the Tories.
It had been suggested that the major opposition parties would stand aside in the North Shropshire by-election to give an independent a clear run.
But Labour and the Liberal Democrats both said yesterday that they would be fielding their own candidates.
Martin Bell won the seat of Tatton in 1997 as an independent on an anti-corruption ticket.
Despite being forced to leave his jobs and stand down as an MP this week, Downing Street refused to rule out the possibility of Mr Paterson receiving a peerage
Last autumn, Randox was awarded a £347million contract for coronavirus testing services.
Despite the ongoing controversy over Mr Paterson, No 10 yesterday left the door open to him being awarded a seat in the House of Lords.
Asked about claims he could get a peerage, the Prime Minister’s spokesman would only say: ‘There’s obviously a formal process for peerages.’
Sources say Boris Johnson did not discuss the matter with Mr Paterson in a phone call they had on Thursday after he decided to step down as an MP.
No 10 also refused to say whether or not MPs had been warned they could lose government funding for their constituencies if they voted against the doomed plan to spare Mr Paterson being suspended from the Commons.
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