ANDOVER’S MP has defended his decision to back a controversial amendment this week, saying there are “very real problems” with the current disciplinary system in parliament.

Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone found after an investigation that Former Conservative MP Owen Paterson had lobbied on behalf of two companies which had paid him more than £100,000 a year – Randox, and Lynn’s Country Foods.

In serious breaches such as this, the Commissioner refers cases to the Commons Standards Committee, a crossbench group of MPs and members of the public, who can then decide on a sanction.

The Commons Standards Committee said his actions were an “egregious” breach of the rules on paid advocacy by MPs and recommended that he should be suspended for 30 sitting days, or six weeks.

But Mr Paterson, who had represented North Shropshire since 1997, rejected the Commissioner’s findings, accusing her of making up her mind before she had even spoken to him and that the investigation had been a contributing factor in the suicide of his wife, Rose.

Mr Paterson quit as an MP rather than face the prospect of being suspended from Parliament for 30 sitting days for an alleged breach of lobbying rules.

The senior Tory announced his resignation after the Prime Minister was forced to abandon a plan to prevent Mr Paterson’s immediate suspension by launching a review of the entire disciplinary system.

The controversial plan was backed by almost 250 Tory MPs on Wednesday, although there was a sizable rebellion and by Thursday morning the Government was forced into a U-turn, blaming a lack of cross-party support.

The supporting MPs, including Andover’s Kit Malthouse, have also received backlash, including accusations of sticking their necks out to ‘save their own’.

However, Mr Malthouse has said that the issue of Mr Paterson is completely separate from the need for review, which is what she voted for.

He told the Advertiser: "I raised concerns before the controversial standards vote this week about the conflation of two issues making the issue a challenging one for all members. First, the very real problems and need for reform of the process for investigating and adjudicating on MP’s conduct, not least the lack of any appeal process, and second the individual case of Owen Paterson.

“In the event, the amendment on which I voted sought only to pause the action against Mr Paterson, not exonerate him, while seeking reform of the process, and on that basis I voted for it in line with the government of which I am a part.

“Subsequently I again raised my serious concerns along with those of the many constituents who wrote to me, and what ensued speaks for itself.

“Through all this furore, I do feel for for Mr Paterson, who whatever the conclusion about his conduct, has now lost his wife to suicide and his position as an MP as a result of a process that has no possibility of appeal."

Mr Paterson faced a vote on his suspension after he was found to have repeatedly lobbied ministers and officials for two companies paying him more than £100,000 per year.

He had always maintained his innocence but said he was resigning because “I am unable to clear my name under the current system” and due to a desire to spare his family any more suffering.

Mr Johnson said he was “very sad” that Mr Paterson was standing down after a “distinguished career”.