TORY MPs have pressed the Prime Minister for the right to taxpayer-funded legal representation to defend against sleaze allegations, reports say.

According to The Times, the influential 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs made their case to the Prime Minister at a meeting earlier this week.

Boris Johnson went to the committee meeting following on from his government’s embarrassing U-turn on the attempt to save disgraced former Tory MP Owen Paterson from suspension.

The U-turn came after Johnson issued a three-line whip ordering his MPs to vote to save Paterson, only to humiliate them further by reneging on his own victory in the Commons less than 24 hours later.

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Amid fury amongst the Tory Party over the incident, Johnson told the 1922 Committee: “On a clear day I crashed the car into a ditch.”

He was reportedly pressed on what MPs see as a need to change the rules over the handling of investigations into their conduct.

Currently, an MP has no right to appeal once the independent standards watchdog has found them guilty of corrupt practice.

The Tories want the rules to change to allow an appeals process, with MPs at the 1922 Committee reportedly arguing that it would be unfair if one of their number should be unable to afford to do so.

The Times reported that an appeals process currently exists for MPs accused of sexual harassment, but they must cover their own legal costs.

The news of the MPs’ lobbying for their own interests has sparked condemnation, especially in the light of the Conservative Party’s sweeping cuts to legal aid for the public.

Pushed through in 2012, those legal aid cuts amounted to a little under £1 billion every year in real-term loss of funding, according to reports in the Guardian.

Reacting to the news, Labour MP David Lammy said it was “grotesque”.

He went on: “Tory cuts to legal aid robbed thousands of ordinary people the ability to defend their rights and left the innocent still having to pay hefty legal bills. To now demand taxpayers cover costs for sleaze investigations is shameful hypocrisy.”

Good Law Project director Jo Maugham said: “We pay for their sleaze through higher taxes. Must we now pay more for them to try and escape accountability for it?”

Peter Stefanovic added: “Probably the most grotesquely insane, ludicrous, bonkers, mad, bat**** crazy, stupid, in the gutter contemptible idea I’ve heard this week. Did I miss anything out?”

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