North Antrim MP Ian Paisley.
NORTH Antrim DUP MP Ian Paisley has challenged the BBC to submit evidence that a Maldivian government minister paid for a luxury holiday for him and his family.
It was the first time Paisley spoke about the allegations after Spotlight obtained a statement from a Director of Sunland Hotels, the company that owns the resort where the Paisley family stayed in the Autumn of 2016, claiming that Mohamed Shainee, a Maldives cabinet minister at the time, requested the accommodation and subsequently paid for it.
He said: "If the BBC think I have done anything wrong, all the BBC has to do is to submit evidence to the Parliamentary Commissioner.
"The independent authority can examine on all of those matters and make their own ruling.
"That's the only comment I can make."
It was revealed last December that Mr Paisley, his wife and sons stayed at the luxury resort for five days in the Autumn of 2016.
According to the programme this was eight months after Mr Paisley visited the country and lobbied on its government's behalf.
At the time he said the holiday did not need to be declared; that a friend had paid for it.
Spotlight claim the evidence they have obtained suggests that Mr Shainee was in fact this mystery friend.
Last year Mr Paisley was suspended from Parliament for 30 days after the Parliamentary Committee on Standards concluded that he was in breach of the Code of Conduct in relation to visits he and his family made to Sri Lanka in 2013.
However Mr Paisley survived a Petition of Recall in September that would have forced a by-election.
Responding to these developments, the DUP have released a statement saying: "We note the serious issues raised in the programme. The party officers will consider these matters within the context of our disciplinary process and any other relevant authority.
"Ian Paisley MP was suspended from the party for 57 days in 2018.
"He was readmitted to membership, with conditions. Amongst other sanctions, was a ban on holding office in the party for 12 months. That ban is still in place.
"We require high standards from our elected representatives.
"Discipline is an internal party matter. We do not give a running commentary."
Sinn Féin, the Alliance Party, the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists have all referred the matter to the standards commissioner.