The MP at the centre of the lobbying furore gripping British politics has resigned.
Owen Paterson was found to have lobbied the government in 2016 and 2017 on behalf of two companies that were paying him — the clinical diagnostics company Randox and the meat-processing firm Lynn’s Country Foods.
A parliamentary standards committee recommended he be suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days.
Then MPs from Paterson’s Conservative Party sparked outrage by voting against the committee’s recommendation. It was the first time in decades that lawmakers hadn’t accepted the standards committee’s decisions.
The backlash from that move led to Paterson resigning on Thursday.
In a statement posted on social media, he maintained that he is “totally innocent of what I have been accused of and I acted at all times in the interest of public health and safety”.
He said he is “unable to clear my name under the current system” and that the “last few days have been intolerable” for him and his family.
“I will remain a public servant but outside the cruel world of politics,” he also said, adding that he will focus his efforts going forward on suicide prevention.
Paterson, a former environment minister who has been a member of Parliament since 1997, had previously blasted the parliamentary standards investigation as “biased” and wanted to appeal. He said he hadn’t been allowed to present his own evidence and that anxiety about the probe played a part in the death of his wife Rose, who killed herself in 2020.
In his latest statement, Paterson took aim at “people, including MPs” who he said “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,” he wrote.