Neil Parish resigns as MP after admitting watching porn in the Commons

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Neil Parish resigns as MP after admitting watching porn in the Commons
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Conservative MP Neil Parish has bowed to pressure to resign after admitting watching pornography in the House of Commons chamber.

The 65-year-old farmer admitted to the BBC on Saturday that he watched adult material twice in Parliament, claiming the first time was accidental after looking at tractors online.

The select committee chairman had initially vowed to continue as MP for Tiverton and Honiton but said he would quit after recognising the "furore" and "damage" he was causing his family and constituency.

His resignation will trigger a by-election in the South West seat of Tiverton and Honiton in Devon.

Mr Parish, the MP for Tiverton and Honiton, had been suspended from the Conservative parliamentary party, pending the outcome of the investigation by Parliament’s standards commissioner Kathryn Stone.

It had been brought to light after female colleagues complained after claiming to have seen him looking at adult content while sitting near them.

In an interview with BBC South West, he said: “The situation was that - funnily enough it was tractors I was looking at. I did get into another website that had a very similar name and I watched it for a bit which I shouldn’t have done. But my crime - biggest crime - is that on another occasion I went in a second time.”

Asked if that was deliberate he told the BBC: “That was deliberate... that was sitting waiting to vote on the side of the chamber.”

“What I did was absolutely totally wrong.”

A spokesperson for Tiverton and Honiton Conservatives confirmed the resignation: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank Neil Parish for his service to our communities over the past 12 years.

“We support his decision to step down as our Member of Parliament.”

Mr Parish has said on Friday he would wait for the full outcome of the investigation before commenting but appeared to suggest he may have opened the file by mistake.

“Of course it’s embarrassing,” he told the BBC. “And it’s embarrassing for my wife and family, and so that’s my main concern at the moment. I have a very supportive wife and I thank her for that.”

Asked if it was a mistake, he said: “I will await the findings of the inquiry.”

Pressed on whether he had opened something on his phone in error, Mr Parish said: “I did, but let the inquiry look at that.”

Earlier, Senior Tory MP Caroline Nokes said it would be "difficult" for Mr Parish to continue spending the required time in Parliament while under investigation.

Asked about him continuing as the chair of the Environment, Food and Rural affairs select committee, she said: “That’s a matter for Neil to discuss with the party whips and to take a position on, but I think whilst he’s under investigation it’s going to make it very difficult for him to be in the Commons as much as he needs to be.”

Ms Nokes also accused Tory whips of “dither and delay” in suspending Mr Parish from the parliamentary party over the pornography allegations.

“I felt by leaving it until Friday before we knew that action had been taken by the whips that it felt like unnecessary dither and delay.”

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