British MP accused of watching porn in House of Commons chamber resigns

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A British member of Parliament accused of watching pornography in the House of Commons chamber has resigned after pressure from his own party.

Neil Parish, 65, of the governing Conservative Party, stepped down after what he described as a moment of “madness.”

Parish, chairman of the house’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said he was trying to look at a tractor website, but stumbled into a porn site with a similar name and watched it for “a bit.”

“My biggest crime is that on another occasion I went in a second time,” he told the BBC. “And that was deliberate.”

Reports that a lawmaker had watched porn triggered a flood of complaints from women in Parliament about the misogyny and sexual harassment they have experienced.

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Though women hold nearly 40% of the seats in the House of Commons, lawmakers and staff say harassment and inappropriate behavior are still rampant.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Parish’s resignation should be a moment for people across the U.K. to say, “enough is enough.”

Interior of the chamber of the House of Commons, in the Houses of Parliament / Palace of Westminster. 

Interior of the chamber of the House of Commons, in the Houses of Parliament / Palace of Westminster. 
(Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)

“I don’t think there could really be any other outcome to what has come to light about this particular MP over the last few days,” she said while campaigning in Fife, Scotland. “Watching porn on a mobile phone in the House of Commons when you’re there representing constituents is just unacceptable.”

Parish rejected the notion that he meant to intimidate anyone.

“For all my rights and wrongs, I was not proud of what I was doing,” he said. “And the one thing I wasn’t doing, and which I will take to my grave as being true, is I was not actually making sure people could see it. In fact, I was trying to do quite the opposite.”

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Members of his own party had wanted to defuse sleaze allegations before local elections on Thursday. The ballot is pivotal for Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is already facing a voter backlash over lockdown-breaking parties during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.  

Mojtaba Sadira

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