Prominent Brexiteer Owen Paterson has claimed he has “no choice” but to sue the government in the European courts over the lobbying scandal that forced him to quit parliament.
Paterson, a former cabinet minister, is taking legal action in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over his claim that the standards committee breached his privacy when it found he broke lobbying rules.
The right to privacy is enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, on which the ECHR adjudicates.
In 2014 Paterson called for the UK to “break free” from the “absurdity” of the European courts so the government could “deport illegal immigrants who come to Calais”.
In a statement, Devonshires solicitors, which is representing Paterson, said: “The irony that Mr Paterson, a vocal opponent of European institutions, should be seeking the help of the ECHR is not lost.
“But he has no other choice, as the government has yet to meet its promise of repatriating human rights law to Britain, hence the application to Strasbourg.”
Paterson resigned as the Conservative MP for North Shropshire last year after he was found guilty by parliament’s sleaze watchdog of an “egregious” breach of parliamentary rules.
The committee on standards found that Paterson had broken rules by lobbying ministers on behalf of two firms that were paying him more than £100,000 between them.
It recommended that Paterson se a 30-day suspension from the House of Commons. Paterson has always denied lobbying.
The government initially tried to put the committee’s recommended suspension on hold on the grounds it believed that parts of the process that found him guilty was unfair.
However, it then abandoned its support for Paterson, triggering his resignation as an MP.
Elsewhere in the statement, Devonshires hit out at the standards commissioner, Kathryn Stone, whom he accused of breaching the “principles of natural justice” by claiming that she played the role of “investigator, prosecutor and adjudicator”.
“In our client’s case, the commissioner performed all three roles, with the committee on standards wrongly imagining that it was acting merely as an appellate body,” it said.
“The reality is that there is no appeal mechanism, nor any way within the system of challenging what has occurred.
“Sadly, there is no UK mechanism through which justice for Mr Paterson can be sought.
“So, on his behalf we have applied to the ECHR. We hope that the UK government will now address the merits of the case.”