Disgraced Tory MP Neil Parish ‘broke the law’ by watching porn in the Commons | Conservatives

Disgraced Tory MP Neil Parish, who resigned his seat on Saturday after admitting to watching pornography twice in the Commons chamber, appears to have committed a criminal offense which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison. prison, the Labor Party said.

Parish, who has been the safe seat for Tiverton and Honiton since 2010, said the first time he watched pornography on his mobile phone next to other MPs, including women, he did so by accident.

But in a moving interview announcing his resignation, in which he nearly burst into tears, he said his “greatest crime” was to have done it again – this time deliberately and in what he called “a moment of madness” – while waiting to vote.

Explaining what happened, Parish, who also runs a farm, told the BBC South West Policy“The situation was this – oddly enough it was tractors I was looking at. I entered another website that had a very similar name and looked at it for a while, which I wouldn’t have not have to do.

“But my crime – the biggest crime – is that on another occasion I went there a second time.”

When asked if it was deliberate, he admitted: “It was deliberate…it was sitting waiting to vote on the side of the chamber.” Parish added: “I’m going to have to live with this for the rest of my life. I made a huge, terrible mistake and I’m here to tell the world.

Jess Phillips, Labour’s shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, said it appeared Parish “by his own admission” had committed a criminal offence. Photography: ParliamentTV

The dramatic resignation, after a week of grim allegations about the conduct of MPs, comes just days before Thursday’s local elections across the UK, which are seen as a key test of Boris Johnson’s ability to survive in as Prime Minister after Partygate and other scandals.

Parish’s exit now sets the stage for a second by-election battle this summer for the Tories as Johnson fights for his political life.

Last night Jess Phillips, Labour’s shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, said it appeared Parish ‘by his own admission’ had committed a criminal offense under the Indecent Postings (Control) Act 1981 ).

The law states that: “If indecent material is publicly posted, the person making the posting and any person causing or permitting the posting to be made shall be guilty of an offence.”

It adds that: “Anything displayed in or so as to be visible from a public place is, for the purposes of this article, deemed to be publicly displayed”.

Penalties range from a fine to two years in prison.

Phillips, who said the law was not widely known and therefore not often enforced, told the Observer“If this law were to be applied, it appears that he committed an offense on his own admission.”

Phillips said Labor would now demand a full review of the application of the law and the number of charges laid under it. She said a public information campaign should also be launched urgently to let people know that viewing pornography where others could see it was already illegal, including on public transport.

Phillips said: “There are many laws in the law books that seek to protect women and girls in society, but they are not enacted. They are very rarely enacted appropriately.

“People don’t know they can complain about it. What we’re going to do now is look at where the load happened and didn’t happen [under this law]like on transport networks where people watch it on the bus next to you.

She added that more awareness of the law would not be enough, but charges had to be brought under it to demonstrate to people that viewing pornography in public was completely unacceptable and would result in prosecution.

On Friday, Parish had referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone, for investigation, but said he would only step down if found guilty. He said yesterday he had a change of heart after realizing the pressure he was putting on his family and the damage he was causing his party.

Parish was identified and stripped of his whip on Friday afternoon after two female colleagues claimed last week that they had seen him watching adult content on his phone as he sat next to them in the room.

Although Parish retained the seat of Tiverton and Honiton with a majority of more than 24,000 in 2019, the Liberal Democrats are now certain to pour resources into the midterm contest as they fight to re-establish themselves as that force in the west of the country.

The Tories are already bracing for another even tougher by-election in the ‘red wall’ seat of Wakefield, following the resignation of Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan following a conviction for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy in 2008.

Labor held Wakefield from the 1930s until Khan took the seat at the 2019 general election with a majority of 3,358.

Write in the ObserverSpeaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle is calling for a radical overhaul of working practices at Westminster, after a series of scandals linked to sexual harassment and bullying.

Commons staff have been pushing for an overhaul for some time. They raised concerns that the independent complaints and grievance system, set up following complaints of sexual harassment and bullying, remains a complicated, slow and often daunting process. Some 43 complaints against MPs have been investigated by the service over the past three years. It is understood that the number for the current year is similar to last year’s figure of 15 MPs.

Hoyle is working to form a “conference of presidents” – essentially a cross-party committee – to consider rapid reforms and back an overhaul. Such a conference was last convened in 2008 to examine the representation of women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities in the Commons. The committee will hear expert testimony before finalizing the reforms. It would have to be formally approved by the government and the Commons.

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