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Last updated: 23 March, 2010 - Published 12:14 GMT
 
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British MP trips paid by Sri Lanka
 
Liam Fox (l) with President Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka in February 2010
The MP has failed to declare the hospitality when asking questions in parliament on Sri Lanka
Senior members of the British ruling party as well as the main opposition are accused of breaking the rules on hospitality on foreign trips including Sri Lanka.

A BBC investigation into the parliamentary rules by MPs has found out that Shadow Defence Scretary Liam Fox has broke the rules on two occasions, having visited Sri Lanka five times in the past three years courtesy of its government.

Hundreds of breaches of parliamentary rules by MPs who accepted free overseas trips from foreign governments have been uncovered by a BBC investigation.

Liam Fox, MP, has failed to declare the hospitality when asking ministers how much UK aid had been given to Sri Lanka.

A BBC investigation looked into which members had registered trips and declared those paid for by foreign governments.

'Must register' the visits

Under Parliamentary rules, MPs must register such foreign visits within four weeks and must declare a financial interest when tabling questions, motions or bills and when speaking out in the commons.

Dr Fox has visited Sri Lanka in November 2007, on a trip paid for by the Sri Lankan government, but did not register it until February 2008 - outside of the four-week requirement.

Andrew Love, MP
Andrew Love, MP, has questioned the British government after visits to Sri Lanka

Also, the BBC found that Dr Fox visited Sri Lanka four times between 2008-2009 - all paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

On April 30, 2008, he tabled a question about aid for Sri Lanka but did not declare an interest.

Dr Fox said: "I have been involved in attempts to promote peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka, since I was a Foreign Office Minister in 1997.During my most recent visit I spoke at a press conference to outline my reasons for being there.”

He says his visit in November 2007 was highlighted in the end of the year audit report.

Spirit of the code

He added: "All visits have been fully declared on the House of Commons Register of Members' Interests and are therefore public knowledge and entirely legitimate. I do however recognise that when asking one question in 2008, I should have noted an interest and the Registrar has been informed of this.”

Labour party MP Andrew Love, who visited Sri Lanka in April 2006 and March 2008 courtesy of its government has asked questions in the parliament related to Sri Lanka, without declaring an interest.

BBC investigation also found out that On 24 May 2006, Mr Love tabled a debate about Sri Lanka without declaring any interest, although he did mention a recent visit.

Mr Love told the BBC that while he may not have met "the letter of the requirements of the code of conduct, I did more than meet the spirit of the code in terms of acting on all occasions in accordance with the public trust placed in me as an elected representative".

 
 
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