Neil Parish formally resigns after admitting watching pornography in the Commons

The Treasury said it had accepted the Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton’s resignation.

David Lynch
Wednesday 04 May 2022 14:07
Neil Parish (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)
Neil Parish (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament/PA)

Neil Parish has formally resigned as an MP after admitting watching pornography in the Commons.

The Treasury released a statement to say it had accepted the Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton’s resignation.

It said: “The Chancellor of the Exchequer has this day appointed Neil Quentin Gordon Parish to be Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.”

Appointing an MP to the position is one of the formal mechanisms used to allow them to resign their office.

Reports emerged last week that two female Tory MPs had seen a male colleague watching adult material on the Commons benches.

Mr Parish then came forward admitting he had twice watched pornography in the chamber, and announced on Saturday that he would quit as MP for the Devon constituency.

The former MP, who chaired the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs Select Committee, told the BBC that the first time he watched pornography in the Commons was an accident, claiming he had been looking for photographs of tractors.

But he admitted the second occasion was intentional.

In an interview with BBC South West, he said: “The situation was, funnily enough it was tractors I was looking at, so I did get into another website with sort of a very similar name and I watched it for a bit, which I shouldn’t have done.

“My crime, my most biggest crime, is that on another occasion I went in a second time, and that was deliberate.

“That was sitting waiting to vote on the side of the chamber.”

The explanation led to puzzlement about how Mr Parish went from searching for farm machinery to adult material.

Caroline Nokes is among Tories calling for an all-women Conservative shortlist in Tiverton and Honiton (House of Commons/PA)

But the 65-year-old was backed by Colin Slade, a deputy chairman of Tiverton and Honiton Conservative Association and a local councillor.

The friend of the outgoing MP said: “I believe it to be true.”

Ministers have rejected calls for an all-women Conservative shortlist for any future Tiverton and Honiton by-election.

Some Conservatives – including Caroline Nokes, chairwoman of the Commons Women and Equalities Committee – want the party to ensure its candidate for the seat is a woman.

But universities minister Michelle Donelan said she was opposed to all-women shortlists and quotas for female MPs as she believed they were “demeaning”.

Mr Parish’s resignation came a day after the former Conservative MP for Wakefield, Imran Ahmad Khan, formally quit his seat.

Mr Khan was found guilty at Southwark Crown Court on April 11 of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for the Government to “get on” with a by-election for the West Yorkshire constituency, a traditional Labour seat which the party unexpectedly lost to the Conservatives in the 2019 general election.

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