UK Parliament standards watchdog to probe conduct of Keith Vaz

The 59-year-old Keith Vaz has resigned as chair of the influential House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, since news of the scandal came to light.

By: PTI | London | Published:September 16, 2016 5:55 pm
Keith Vaz, Indian-origin MP Keith Vaz, Britain, UK, Keith Vaz Sex scandal, UK's Paliamentry standards Watch dog, UK news, Latest news, international news, World news Britain’s longest serving Indian-origin MP, Keith Vaz. (File Photo)

Britain’s parliamentary standards watchdog has opened an inquiry into the country’s longest-serving Indian-origin MP Keith Vaz after he was embroiled in a sex scandal over allegations that he hired two male prostitutes and made references to drugs.

The 59-year-old Labour politician has since resigned as chair of the influential House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.

In an updated list of inquiries unveiled on Thursday, the Leicester East MP has been named by the UK’s Parliamentary Standards Commissioner as among those under investigation.

However, commissioner Kathryn Hudson has suspended the inquiry until Scotland Yard confirms its own assessment on whether a police investigation will be initiated against Vaz.

“Keith Vaz MP – Alleged breach of paragraphs 10 and 16 of the Code of Conduct (suspended pending outcome of police assessment),” reads the official announcement of the inquiry.

Under the relevant paragraphs of the code, the commissioner will look into whether Vaz breached the section which states: “Members shall base their conduct on a consideration of the public interest, avoid conflict between personal interest and the public interest and resolve any conflict between the two, at once, and in favour of the public interest.”

It will also assess if he was in breach of the section requiring members to “never undertake any action which would cause significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole, or of its members generally”.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards’ probe will determine whether Vaz was guilty of a conflict of interest as he headed up a Home Affairs Select Committee review into prostitution laws while allegedly engaging the services of male escorts.

The inquiry comes after allegations published in the ‘Sunday Mirror’ earlier this month claimed the married, father of two had met two male escorts from eastern Europe at his north London flat last month.

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The high-profile politician is also alleged to have told the escorts to bring the party drug known as “poppers” and is also quoted as discussing the possibility of paying for cocaine at a future meeting, but added that he would not take the drug himself.

The parliamentary probe was triggered by Conservative party MP Andrew Bridgen, who had reported Vaz to the commissioner.

In turn, it emerged today that Vaz has also reported Bridgen to the same watchdog – accusing him of breaching its Code of Conduct.

In letters seen by the ‘Daily Mirror’, Vaz highlights a section of the rules that says the commissioner cannot probe matters relating to MPs’ conduct “in their purely private and personal lives”.

Vaz, born to Goan parents in Aden, Yemen, had made a public apology to his family after the newspaper reports appeared and his wife has since told the media that she has forgiven him and that he is “not a bad person”.