FORMER cabinet minister Owen Paterson is facing the prospect of a 30-day suspension from Parliament after he was found to have breached Commons rules on lobbying.

An investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone found he repeatedly lobbied ministers and officials on behalf of two companies for which he was acting as a paid consultant – Randox, and Lynn’s Country Foods.

The Commons Standards Committee said his actions were an “egregious” breach of the rules on paid advocacy by MPs and recommended that he should be suspended for 30 sitting days.

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Its report said: “The committee found that Mr Paterson’s actions were an egregious case of paid advocacy, that he repeatedly used his privileged position to benefit two companies for whom he was a paid consultant, and that this has brought the House into disrepute.”

Conservative MP Owen Paterson

In an angry statement, Paterson rejected the commissioner’s findings, accusing her of making up her mind before she had even spoken to him.

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“This is a biased process and not fair,” he said.

“It offends against the basic standard of procedural fairness that no-one should be found guilty until they have had a chance to be heard and to present their evidence including their witnesses.”