Owen Paterson: Ex-minister defends lobbying for two firms after suspension from parliament halted

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Owen Paterson has said he "wouldn't hesitate" to act in the same manner "tomorrow" after he was heavily criticised by a standards body for breaching lobbying rules.

Speaking to Sky News, the former minister said he would "absolutely" do the same thing again after he was reprimanded by the Committee on Standards.

He also admitted that he continues to work with the two firms he was found to have lobbied on behalf of.

Mr Paterson was facing a 30-day suspension from the House of Commons for breaching lobbying rules over his paid consultancy work on behalf of Randox, a clinical diagnostics company, and Lynn's Country Foods, a meat processor and distributor.

However, on Wednesday afternoon Tory MPs backed a government-sanctioned amendment to stop his proposed suspension from happening.

Mr Paterson told Sky News' deputy political editor Sam Coates that he would have "no question" in acting the same way again.

"No, I wouldn't hesitate tomorrow. Absolutely," he said.

"When we found out about the milk I realised it was absolute dynamite. First of all it was very obvious that lives were at risk, and secondly, if it had been mishandled and had been leaked to keen media agents like you, we could have absolutely blown the UK dairy industry apart.

"So I had absolutely no hesitation whatever in calling a meeting very rapidly. And if you look at the witness statements, they are grateful that I did do that.

"As a result of those efforts, British milk is now safer. And we did it without disrupting the dairy industry. So I wouldn't hesitate to do it again tomorrow, absolutely no question."

Mr Paterson was found to have breached rules on lobbying on behalf of Randox by making three approaches to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) about the testing of antibiotics in milk in 2016 and 2017.

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