British Conservative Neil Parish on Saturday said he will resign as the MP for Tiverton and Honito after he admitted to watching pornography on his phone twice in Parliament.
The Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs Committee chair, who is a farmer by trade, told the BBC’s “Politics South West” programme that he was looking at tractors online and went into another website with a “very similar name.”
“I watched it for a bit, which I shouldn’t have done,” he said, adding that his “biggest crime” was deliberately going to the website a second time when his was “waiting to vote on the side of the [House of Commons] chamber.”
Asked about the reason he had done so, Parish said it was “a moment of madness, and also, totally wrong,” but stressed he was “not making sure people could see it.”
“I was wrong, what I was doing, but this idea that I was there watching it, intimidating women, I mean I have 12 years in Parliament and probably got one of the best reputations ever—or did have,” he said.
When pressed on why he chose to view the material in the Commons, Parish said: “I don’t know, I think I must’ve taken complete leave of my senses and my sensibilities and my sense of decency, everything.”
The allegation of an MP watching pornography was first made on Tuesday evening during a Conservative backbench meeting where female MPs, including former Prime Minister Theresa May, “railed against Parliament’s culture of sexism,” according to The Sun, which first reported the story.
Parish was identified on Friday as the offending MP. He referred himself to the parliamentary Commissioner for Standards in the House of Commons, but said he would continue to perform his duties as the MP for Tiverton and Honiton before announcing his resignation on Saturday.
Parish said he first thought he would explain to the standards committee what had happened, but could see the “furore and the damage I was causing my family and my constituency” and decided to quit.
The attitude and behaviour toward female MPs have recently come under scrutiny after the Mail on April 23 reported accusations from unnamed Conservative MPs that Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner used flirtatious tactics to distract Prime Minister Boris Johnson—allegations Rayner’s spokesman said were categorically untrue.
Rayner on Wednesday wrote on Twitter that sexist slurs are “mortifying and deeply hurtful.”
Questioned by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer later on the same day, Johnson told Parliament that he had “exchanged messages” with Rayner following the report.
“I repeat what I said to her, there can be absolutely no place for such behaviour or such expression in this House and we should treat each other frankly, with the respect that each other deserves,” he said.
PA Media contributed to this report.