But, unfortunately, there was more. “Friends of mine will tell you that I am generally quite a level-headed person. Good in a crisis, calm in a storm, lamps lit and all that. Solid and down-to-earth, not generally given to fits of the vapours. But it's been a tough few months, personally, and I am not perhaps at my most resilient”. Yes? Yes yes? Yes yes yes?
“Yesterday, as I sat down at my desk with my customary Tuesday morning cup of tea and piles of newspapers to write these words, I found myself suddenly and unexpectedly overwhelmed by grief”. Don’t look in the mirror, then. “I couldn't. All I could think about was poor Sir David, and the faces of his widow and daughters as they surveyed the tributes to him outside the church where he was stabbed to death”. And it wasn’t just David Amess.
Owen Paterson MP
“This week MP Owen Paterson, whose lovely wife, Rose, killed herself in June last year, said that she was driven to commit suicide because of the strain brought about by an inquiry she feared would destroy them both … he was being investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards over his role as a consultant for a company called Randox Health. She was, he says, distraught, believing he would end up having to resign as an MP … she believed she would lose her role as head of Aintree”.
No-one should trivialise the fact that Paterson’s wife took her own life, and I do not. The problem is Ms Vine’s painting the picture of an MP wronged sits uneasily with not only the results of that inquiry, but also the timing of her column - just before they were announced.
As the BBC has reported, “Ex-minister Owen Paterson could be suspended from the Commons for 30 days after an MPs' watchdog found he had ‘repeatedly’ used his position as an MP to benefit two companies who paid him as a consultant. The watchdog described his actions as ‘an egregious case of paid advocacy’”. The Mirror had a little more.
“An excoriating Standards Committee report found Owen Paterson repeatedly used his position as an MP to promote two companies that paid him. He has vehemently denied wrongdoing and sought to implicate the probe over his wife’s tragic suicide … The former Environment Secretary breached four separate parts of the MPs’ code of conduct and brought the House of Commons ‘into disrepute’”.
Also, the report concluded “No previous case of paid advocacy has seen so many breaches or such a clear pattern of confusion between the private and public interest”. Small wonder Ian Fraser asked “North Shropshire Tory MP Owen Paterson is paid £500 per hour as consultant to Northern Ireland-based Randox Laboratories. Last month, the government handed Randox a £133m Covid-19 testing contact, without seeking rival bids. Just a coincidence?” Adam Bienkov, now of Byline Times, summed up.
“Taken nearly 3 times his MPs’ salary for ‘paid advocacy’ for the companies - Broken official lobbying rules - Attempted to smear the commissioner investigating him”. Anyone might conclude that Sarah Vine has been indulging in a crude preemptive strike.
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