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Owen Paterson Notes "Irony" Of ECHR Appeal, Army Could Support NHS, On-shore Wind U-Turn Hinted

Owen Paterson is taking the UK government to the ECHR (Alamy)

6 min read

Former Conservative MP Owen Paterson has acknowledged the "irony" of his decision to launch a European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) appeal into a House of Commons probe that found he broke its rules on paid lobbying, despite being a vocal opponent of the European institution.

In November last year, Paterson resigned as an MP before he could be suspended for 30 days over a report that found him guilty of breaches of lobbying rules. 

He is now taking the UK government to the ECHR over its ruling, despite being a long-time critic of European legal institutions, including the ECHR itself. 

"The irony that Mr Paterson, a vocal opponent of European institutions, should be seeking the help of the ECHR is not lost," Paterson's lawyers said in a statement on his behalf this morning. 

In his application to the ECHR, Paterson said the UK committee’s findings had “damaged his good reputation” and that the investigation was “not fair in many basic respects”.

In the statement his lawyers say he is “completely innocent” of any wrongdoing, ahead of the case's launch today. 

They state he was supported by 17 witnesses, none of whom were called on by the Committee.  

“The bedrock of any disciplinary procedure is that it complies with the principles of natural justice,” Paterson’s legal team said. 

“It is clear that in her pursuit of Mr Paterson, the Commissioner for Standards breached those principles – its own terms of reference – in many ways, going so far as to confirm in writing that she had decided that Mr Paterson was ‘guilty’ before she even spoke to him.”

The statement argues the case had to be brought to the ECHR as there is “no UK mechanism through which justice for Mr Paterson can be sought” and that they hope the “merits of the case” will now be addressed by the UK government. 

BBC journalist arrested for covering China protests

China is facing widespread anti-government demonstrations in response to its strict Covid rules and a BBC journalist covering the protests has been arrested and beaten by police officers. 

BBC journalist Edward Lawrence was covering the protests in Shanghai when he was dragged away by officers, with officials later claiming that he was detained for his ‘own good’ in case he caught Covid from the protesters. 

He was held in custody for several hours before being released. 

Business Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News he is “watching China with concern”. 

He said: “When I see those pictures, it takes you back to the worst days of lockdown and people are clearly getting fed-up.”

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly criticized China for its handling of the protests, calling the arrest of the journalist "disturbing".

He tweeted: "Media freedom and freedom to protest must be respected. No country is exempt.

"Journalists must be able to do their job without intimidation."

Army could support NHS through winter pressures

NHS ambulances
Armed forces personnel would drive ambulances to keep NHS services running (Alamy)

The army could be brought in to support the NHS through the pressure it will face during the winter, in addition to workforce shortages as a result of strikes. 

Nurses, ambulance drivers, paramedics, cleaners, porters, catering staff, clerical workers and junior doctors are among those who could walk out of the NHS in the coming months over pay disputes. 

To keep NHS services running, armed forces personnel would drive ambulances and fill frontline roles in hospitals, according to contingency plans by health officials. 

The army was previously called on to support the NHS through the Covid-19 pandemic last winter, with thousands of personnel deployed across the country.

The first major walkout of UK nurses will be led by Pat Cullen, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). 

According to a profile of Cullen in The Sunday Times, she has been touring hospitals and clinics across the country and spending time with those on the front line to galvanise support for the strikes.  

In 2019 and 2020, she was praised for winning nurses a better deal by successfully overseeing a strike in Northern Ireland.

Shapps hints government may U-turn on onshore wind farm ban

Grant Shapps
Grant Shapps suggested Rishi Sunak may U-turn on the plans for an outright ban (Alamy)

A Cabinet Minister has hinted that the Prime Minister could back down on a plan to ban new onshore wind farms, as he faces a growing Tory rebellion on the issue. 

Around 30 Conservatives, including former prime ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, are supporting an amendment to the Levelling Up Bill which would allow onshore wind farms where there is community consent. 

Business Secretary Grant Shapps told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “We’ve been very clear that regardless, local communities need to both support and ideally see the benefits from this.”

His comments suggest that Rishi Sunak may U-turn on the plans for an outright ban in order to avoid a defeat by Tory rebels. 

The business secretary also said an extra £1bn will be spent to insulate the UK's least energy efficient homes.

He said the new strategy would save those who benefitted around £310 a year, targeting homes in the lower council tax bands that have a low energy efficiency rating.

Matt Hancock finishes I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! in third place

Former health secretary and sitting Conservative MP Matt Hancock left the jungle on Sunday night after coming third place on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

The MP faced significant criticism for his stint on the show, and lost the Tory whip as a result.

Grant Shapps told Times Radio Hancock’s “true position” should have been in Parliament serving his constituents in the last few weeks.

"It's often said that... politics is showbusiness for ugly people. He should be with us uglies back in the House rather than the jungle down under," he said. 

He believed that Hancock’s appearance on the show suggests he has decided that his political career is "done".

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