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Politics

Tory MP Neil Parish resigns after admitting twice watching porn in the House of Commons

Tiverton and Honiton MP Parish, 65, said on the first occasion he had been looking at tractors and got onto another website “that had a very similar name”. The second time was deliberate.

MP Neil Parish has resigned as an MP after admitting he watched porn twice in the House of Commons.

In an interview with BBC Politics South West on Saturday, Parish, who represents the constituency of Tiverton and Honiton in Devon, 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.”

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Asked if the second time he viewed porn was deliberate, he explained: “That was deliberate … that was sitting waiting to vote on the side of the chamber.”

He added: “I will have to live with this for the rest of my life. I made a huge terrible mistake and I’m here to tell the world.”

Labour’s shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire said it was “the right decision” for Parish to quit, adding that the people of Tiverton and Honiton “deserve better”.

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The allegations of an MP watching porn in the chamber first emerged last week in a meeting between Tory MPs and Chief Whip Chris Heaton Harris that left many attendees “shell shocked”, according to numerous reports. Female MPs were said to have shared horror stories of harassment, misogyny and sexist behaviour in the halls of Westminster.

One MP told The Mirror: “It was like a blood-letting. Everybody was sharing awful stories of what had happened to them in the Commons at the hands of male MPs. [The chief whip] clearly hadn’t been expecting it and looked knocked for six. But the big question is what happens next.”

It comes just days after it was revealed that 56 MPs are currently under investigation for sexual harassment, including three cabinet ministers and two members of the shadow cabinet. That news was reported on the same day the Mail on Sunday caused outrage by reporting that Conservative MPs accused deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner of trying to distract the prime minister by crossing and uncrossing her legs on the front bench at prime minister’s questions.

One MP told Politico’s Esther Webber there were dozens of MPs at the meeting, male and female, who are “appalled, exhausted and angry” at the persistence of misogyny and sexual misconduct at Westminster.

The MP claimed the situation had worsened under Bois Johnson’s leadership because “nothing happens” to MPs under “a culture of rule-breaking”.

Who is Neil Parish, the MP who watched porn in the Commons?

Neil Parish, 65, had represented Tiverton and Honiton, in Devon, since 2010 before his resignation on Saturday. He was also chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

He previously served as the Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for South West England from 1999 to 2009.

On Friday night after he was names as the MP in question, Parish posted a statement to his website stating he would cooperate with the investigation, but within 24 hours he had resigned.

Parish’s resignation will trigger a by-election in his constituency, where the Conservatives held a 24,239 majority over Labour in the 2019 general election.

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