BREAKING: Disgraced MP Owen Paterson has resigned
MP at the centre of lobbying row has resigned from Parliament
Owen Paterson has resigned as MP for North Shropshire saying "I will remain a public servant but outside the cruel world of politics".
The former minister was found to have "repeatedly used his privileged position" to benefit companies he worked for.
Yesterday (November 3), Paterson temporarily avoided suspension after two Tory MPs filed amendments to save him.
Earlier today, the government was forced into a humiliating climbdown over a decision not to suspend the "egregious" lobbyist.
After 24 hours of public backlash, the government abandoned plans to create a Tory-dominated standards committee, a decision which left Paterson's fate hanging in the balance.
Following an investigation by the Committee on Public Standards, a report found "no previous case of paid advocacy has seen so many breaches or such a clear pattern of behaviour in failing to separate private and public interests".
The report also found Paterson's lobbying exploits amounted to nearly three times his annual parliamentary salary.
In a statement posted on his social media, Owen Paterson said "with much sadness" he has "decided to resign as the MP for North Shropshire".
He said: "The last two years have been an indescribable nightmare for my family and me.
"My integrity, which I hold very dear, has been repeatedly and publicly questioned. I maintain that I am totally innocent of what I have been accused of and I acted at all times in the interests of public health and safety."
Paterson, who maintains he was not given a fair review by the Committee on Standards in Public Life said he was "unable to clear my name under the current system".
The Tory MP, who lost his wife to suicide last year, said "Far, far worse than having my honesty questioned was, of course, the suicide of my beloved and wonderful wife, Rose.
"The last few days have been intolerable for us. Worst of all was seeing people, including MPs, publicly mock deride Rose's death and belittle our pain.
"My children have therefore asked me to leave politics altogether, for my sake as well as theirs. I agree with them. I do not want my wife's memory and reputation to become a political football."
Owen Paterson said he will "remain a public servant but outside the cruel world of politics" and will "devote myself to public service in whatever ways I can but especially in the world of suicide prevention."
A by-election will be triggered in the constituency of North Shropshire.
The Conservative MP held the seat in 2019 with a majority of 22,949.
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