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Rajapaksa-era corruption rocks British Parliament

Rampant corruption during the former Rajapaksa-regime has rocked the British Parliament too and is threatening to undermine the government of Prime Minister Theresa May, according to foreign media reports.

A British MP is likely to lose his seat following revelations that he and his family accepted luxury holidays from the then government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to defend his dismal human rights record.

Legislator Ian Paisley Jr of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) allied with May’s Conservatives, was yesterday fighting to retain his seat in the House of Commons following an Standards Committee recommendation to suspended him till November.

JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake told Parliament yesterday that the Rajapaksa administration had paid in excess of Rs.45 million to entertain the Paisley family in 2013 and demanded an investigation into who instigated the bribe.

“There should be an investigation to find out who organised his holiday and who paid for it,” Ratnayake said demanding that the authorities launch a fresh probe into the scandal that has rocked the British Parliament.

Paisley, his wife and children flew business class twice to Sri Lanka in 2013. They were provided with a chauffeur-driven Mercedes, helicopter rides and five-star accommodation all paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

After accepting the luxury holidays from Sri Lanka, he had written to the then British Prime Minister David Cameron in defence of Rajapaksa’s human rights record. Failure to disclose his expensive gifts from Sri Lanka before lobbying the prime minister prompted sanctions against him.

He was found guilty of breaking Westminster rules over luxury trips worth over 100,000 Pounds (Rs.22 million)

The Commons Standards Committee action against Paisley exposes him to the danger of being “recalled” by his constituents, under legislation passed in 2015, which would trigger a by-election.

“In view of the seriousness of this matter, we recommend that Mr. Paisley be suspended from the service of the House for a period of 30 sitting days starting on September 4, 2018,” said the standards committee.

His actions amounted to “paid advocacy” and “bring the House of Commons into disrepute,” a damning report concluded.

Former President Rajapaksa’s gofer, Sajin Vass Gunawardena, had arranged several influential foreign dignitaries to visit Sri Lanka and extracted statements from them supporting the country at a time when he faced international isolation.

In Paisley’s case, his trips took place in March and July 2013. On the first, he stayed for 10 days and took his entire family. On the second he stayed for seven days and took his wife, Fiona and two of their four children.

The Telegraph newspaper said Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry paid 16,000 Pounds (3.52 million rupees) as their business-class passage. Colombo has also spent another 2.5 million rupees to ferry them in helicopters within the country.

(Daily News)

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