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Police ‘kindly’ confiscated my guns after pornography scandal, former MP says

Former MP Neil Parish said he was ‘left to drown’ by the Tories (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament)
Former MP Neil Parish said he was ‘left to drown’ by the Tories (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament)

Neil Parish has revealed the police “kindly” confiscated his shotguns to prevent him from shooting himself after he was caught watching pornography in the House of Commons.

The former Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton formally resigned in May after admitting he had watched pornography twice on his phone in Parliament.

In a candid interview on LBC’s Swarbrick On Sunday, Mr Parish opened up about his struggles in the aftermath of the scandal, claiming Chris-Heaton Harris, the chief whip, left him to “drown” instead of offering him help.

Cabinet reshuffle
Neil Parish criticised chief whip Chris Heaton-Harris (left) (Aaron Chown/PA)

He said he felt “frightened” by the paparazzi storming outside his house, shouting abuse at him, and by death threats.

Mr Parish said: “Have you had three days of the paparazzi outside of your house shouting abuse at you? It is enough to frighten anybody, and I don’t frighten easily.”

He went on: “I have had a couple of death threats and you have got all these cameras outside your house. And David Amess … you know, I had an office three doors down from him.

“I was not going to put my wife through this. I spent the whole three days trying to make sure they didn’t have the house in full view of the cameras. I think I largely managed to succeed in that.

“It’s not easy. And when you go to the chief whip and ask for help, you expect it. You are thrown over the side of a ship, and then you are left to drown.

“That’s how it works and fine, but I saw Mark Spencer on the podcast, Telegraph podcast, saying how caring they all were. I need to put it out on record, they are not.”

Mr Parish later acknowledged the now Commons Leader was “much better” than the current chief whip Mr Heaton-Harris, adding: “This idea that they are all there caring for us is nonsense.

“The police very kindly and rightly took away – because I am a farmer, you see – I have got shotguns, so they took those away from me.

“Because when you have blown up your parliamentary career for 12 years, you are not feeling in the best place, and they took them away for my own safety, not that I was going to shoot anybody else, in case I shot myself.

“I did say to them in a moment of black humour, ‘I am a very bad shot, I will probably miss’, but they didn’t, naturally, see the joke at the time, or nor was it very funny.”

During the interview, Mr Parish said a few times that what he did was “immoral” but “not illegal”.

He also claimed he probably was “done in” by some of his colleagues and thrown to the “press wolves” afterwards.

Tiverton and Honiton by-election
Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Ed Davey (left) and party chief whip Wendy Chamberlain walk with Richard Foord, in Tiverton town centre, after he was elected MP for Tiverton and Honiton in the by-election (Andrew Matthews/PA)

When asked about it, he said: “I think probably I was (done in). Now, I was wrong to be watching it: it was very immoral, it wasn’t illegal, it was immoral, and I shouldn’t have been doing it.

“I was right in the corner of the House of Commons as you go into the lobby to vote, so this idea I think people have got that I was right in the middle of the House of Commons flaunting it is absolutely wrong.

“I wasn’t proud of what I was doing and it was very wrong. But I didn’t spend any time in the last 12 years, shall I say, splitting on fellow members.

“I asked to be able to apologise if I caused offence, I was not given that opportunity by the chief whip, and I was thrown to the press wolves.”

On the by-election result in Tiverton and Honiton, which was snatched by the Liberal Democrats, overturning a Conservative majority of more than 24,000, Mr Parish said the Prime Minister must take some responsibility for it.

He said: “I think he (Boris Johnson) is playing a very dangerous game now, he really is. He has to face up to the reality, that, yes, I caused the by-election, but I didn’t lose the by-election.

“It’s a safe seat. It would have been a reduced majority under normal times, and we would have returned Helen Hurford quite comfortably, but the trouble was, naturally, it was a referendum on the Prime Minister, and he must take some responsibility.”

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