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Former Conservative cabinet minister Owen Paterson has avoided being suspended from the Commons, after Tory MPs voted to change parliament’s rules.
Paterson was found to have committed an “egregious” breach of lobbying rules by a Westminster standards watchdog.
He denied any wrongdoing but the Commons Standards Committee recommended he be kicked out of parliament for 30 days.
It found he had repeatedly lobbied ministers and officials for two companies - – Randox and Lynn’s Country Foods - paying him more than £100,000 per year.
But Tory MPs, on the urging of Downing Street, blocked the suspension and instead voted to change the entire disciplinary process.
MPs voted 250 to 232, majority 18, to stop Paterson being suspended.
Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, accused Boris Johnson and the government of “wallowing in sleaze”.
“Tory Ministers and MPs just voted to over-rule an independent cross-party committee which found that a Conservative MP repeatedly breached the rules by pocketing over £100,000 a year to lobby ministers on behalf of his paymasters,” she said.” An absolute disgrace. Rotten to the core.”
Paterson has also argued that the manner in which the investigation was carried out had “undoubtedly” played a “major role” in the decision of his wife Rose to take her own life last year.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.