Ian Paisley failed to register a luxury family holiday to the Maldives but he will not face sanctions, a parliamentary inquiry has found.
The 2016 trip was investigated by the parliamentary standards commissioner.
She found on “balance of probabilities that a corporate body rather than a personal friend of Mr Paisley’s had absorbed the cost of the hospitality”.
Kathryn Stone said the North Antrim MP had apologised for not declaring the trip and for delaying her inquiry.
Ian Paisley, a Democratic Unionist Party MP, his wife and his two sons received a full-board five-night stay at a resort in 2016, eight months after he was part of a controversial parliamentary visit to the islands.
Ms Stone concluded Mr Paisley and his family received a benefit which should have been registered in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
However, the commissioner also concluded the trip was not funded by a foreign government and the DUP MP did not break any rules on “paid advocacy”
Mr Paisley’s trip to the Maldives was investigated by the BBC NI Spotlight programme in December 2018.
The programme alleged the MP was given a complimentary holiday at a luxury Maldives resort months after advocating on behalf of its government and examined whether he should have declared the trip in 2016.
Mr Paisley claimed he paid for part of the holiday and the rest was paid for by a friend.
Ms Stone’s report states that “on the basis of all the evidence available to me, bearing in mind that I had concluded that the true donor had been a corporate body and not a foreign government, I did not find that Mr Paisley had acted in breach of the rules on the declaration of interest nor the rules on paid advocacy”.
Her report also states this is not the first time Mr Paisley has broken the rules.
Mr Paisley was suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days for “serious misconduct” for failing to declare two family holidays to Sri Lanka in 2013.
‘Not always helpful’
Ms Stone’s report said that in relation to the Maldives trip, Mr Paisley had “acknowledged this new breach of rules”.
She said he had also “apologised unreservedly for it and has agreed to rectify his omission”.
The report states “he has described to me the steps he has taken to avoid any further recurrence”.
“He has also apologised for unnecessarily delaying my inquiry,” Ms Stone said.
The commissioner also notes that during her inquiry Mr Paisley’s “responses have not always been helpful”.
She has concluded her investigation into the MP and does not intend to take any further action.
Mr Paisley has added the Maldives trip to the register.
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