A Member of Parliament has been arrested and undergoing investigation for allegedly watching pornography in the House of Commons.
It was claimed that the MP might have opened the pornography material on his mobile phone by mistake.
However, an inquiry has been launched after Neil Parish referred himself for investigation as he has refused to resign as an MP or as head of the environment select committee until the inquiry concludes.
Two female colleagues complained after claiming to have seen him looking at adult content while sitting near them.
Meanwhile, Mr Parish has been suspended from the Conservative parliamentary party, pending the outcome of the investigation by Parliament’s standards commissioner Kathryn Stone.
Information is that if she finds that the MP has violated the code of conduct for MPs, possible punishments range from apologising to the Commons to suspension or expulsion.
Mr Parish said in an interview that he would co-operate fully with the inquiry and would await the outcome before commenting.
“Of course it’s embarrassing,” he said. “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. I will await the findings of the inquiry. I did, but let the inquiry look at that.”
Mr Parish also said he would resign if “found guilty” by the inquiry, saying he understood the upset he might have caused and “I apologise for that”.
However, in a statement on his website, he said he would continue working as an MP and committee chair, despite calls from female colleagues for him to resign or at least to stop attending Parliament while under investigation.
A female minister had reported him for viewing pornographic material while sitting beside her in the Commons chamber. The female minister said she had also seen the MP watching pornography during a hearing of a select committee, The Times reported.
A second female Tory MP said she had tried but been unable to capture video proof of him doing so.
The allegations were subsequently revealed to have been made about Mr Parish, who said he had referred himself for investigation.
Mr Parish serves as the MP for Tiverton and Honiton in Devon and also chairs the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee – but the investigation does not prevent him from continuing in either role.