Embarrassing! Neil Parish to quit if found guilty after being named as porn-watching MP

MP Neil Parish responds to questions about porn allegations

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Neil Parish, who was first elected to represent constituents in the Devon seat in 2010, referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards on Friday. Two Tory MPs had identified Mr Parish as the individual who had watched pornographic content on his mobile phone both in the Commons chamber and at a committee. Mr Parish, who was elected chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee in 2015, suggested he would quit as the MP for Tiverton & Honiton if he was found guilty of any wrongdoing.

If Mr Parish resigned as the MP for Tiverton & Honiton a by-election could be called in a seat which the Tories won with a 24,239-vote majority in 2019.

Despite his constituents voting to leave the European Union, Mr Parish said he believed “the best option for British agriculture” was remaining in the Brussels bloc.

However, he later promised to “fight tooth and nail” to get the best Brexit deal for farmers.

When asked at his Somerset home if he opened a file “by error”, Mr Parish said: “I did, but let the inquiry look at that.”

Mr Parish added he would await the investigation’s findings but would “not remain if I am found guilty”.

The Tiverton & Honiton MP, who formerly represented the south west in the European Parliament, added he would “fully comply” with the investigation as he apologised and revealed he only told his wife this afternoon.

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Sue Parish, who has been married to the Remain-supporting MP for 40-years, said the porn-watching debacle was “just a bit stupid” and the allegations were “very embarrassing”.

When Mrs Parish, who described pornography as “degrading” and “demeaning”, asked if she was aware her husband viewed such content, she told the Times: “No. He’s quite a normal guy, really.

“He’s a lovely person. It’s just so stupid. People shouldn’t be looking at pornography.

“He would never just sit there with people looking. He would never just do that knowing [people were looking].

“These ladies were quite right to be as [upset] as they were. I’ve just no idea what happens in these circumstances.

“I don’t know whether it’s ever happened before.”

She added: “I don’t think it’s going to carry on, is it?

“It’s so stupid. He’s such a good MP. He’s such a good person.”

Speaking about the incident, a spokesman for the Tory chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris said: “Mr Parish has been suspended from the Conservative Whip pending the outcome of that investigation.”

Mr Parish added: “Following recent allegations regarding an MP’s use of their mobile phone in parliament, I have referred myself to the parliamentary commissioner for standards in the House of Commons.”

Two female Tory MPs made the allegations against the Tiverton & Honiton MP in a meeting of women Tory backbenchers on Tuesday evening.

Tory chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris, who attended the meeting with around 50 female Tory MPs, was said to have looked “horrified” when told about the incident.

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Mr Parish is now understood to be the focus of two investigations.

The first one, which is being conducted by parliamentary commissioner Kathryn Stone, was called after he referred himself on Friday.

The second, which was called after one of the female MPs reported the incident, is being carried out by the Independent Complaints and Grievances Scheme.

Boris Johnson responded to initial reports by condemning the then unnamed MP for allegedly watching pornography in Parliament.

The Prime Minister said: “It’s obviously unacceptable for anybody to be doing that kind of thing in the workplace.

“It would be the same for any job up and down the country. Clearly that kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable.”

The Brexit-backing attorney-general Suella Braverman suggested the MP could be suspended or even expelled from Parliament if they were found guilty.

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