Ian Paisley Jr facing a test of Werrity

Cross-posted from PatreonBecome a Patron!

Ian Paisley Jr is one of ten DUP MPs one whom the survival of Theresa May's Government now depends, so it is not surprising he is coming under increasing media scrutiny in the new Parliament.

On Friday, the Daily Telegraph reported that he had failed to declare £100,000 in holiday expenses paid for by the Sri Lankan Government.

In 2012, Paisley had been part of an unoffical Commons delegation to Sri Lanka, which was cancelled because of concerns about war crimes and human rights abuses by the Rajapaksa Government. In 2013, the year of Paisley's alleged undeclared visit, a previous Telegraph investigation led the Conservative Party to ban its MPs from an all-expenses paid trip to the Commonwealth Head of Government's conference in Colombo.

Paisley responded to Friday's Telegraph article with a characteristically robust denial. The paper nevertheless added some intriguing details in a follow-up story, including the claim that the holidays were organised by the Sri Lankan politician. Sajin De Vass Gunawardena.

Gunawardena's name is familiar to those who investigated the 2011 Werritty Affair which led to the resignation of the then Defence Secretary Liam Fox, now secretary for International Trade.

A Guardian story on the Sri Lankan connections of Fox and his right-hand man, Adam Werrity noted that: "A key interlocutor was the president's foreign affairs fixer, a controversial former businessman called Sachin de Wass Gunawardene."

My own researches for Powerbase turned up a leaked cable by the US ambassador in Colombo, which described Gunawardena as "a Presidential aide and family friend with a track record of involvement in shady procurement deals."

Another interesting aspect of the Telegraph investigation is the claim that Paisley was in a position to set up oil deals with Omani and Nigerian companies. Paisley does have a record of commercial involvement in Africa. In July 2013, he missed a key vote on Syria while on a trip to Uganda for EBISA, the London-based subsidiary of Ecobank, a French financial institution with interests across Africa.

 It remains to be seen what the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards will make of the Telegraph's allegations  The worry for Theresa May must be that this is only the start of a drip-drip effect, that may also be fed by the inquiry into the RHI scandal, fuelling public resentment of her dependence on the DUP



, ,



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *