Labour MP Keith Vaz has stepped down as chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee.
It follows newspaper claims he paid for the services of two male sex workers.
He said: “It is in the best interest of the Home Affairs Select Committee that its important work can be conducted without any distractions whatsoever.
“I am genuinely sorry that recent events make it impossible for this to happen if I remain chair. ”
At the weekend, the Sunday Mirror published pictures it said showed Mr Vaz with male sex workers in a flat in north London that he owns. Illegal drugs were mentioned during a secretly recorded conversation.
Another Labour MP will now be elected to replace him, with Conservative MP Tim Loughton taking over as interim chairman.
Speaking after Mr Vaz had informed committee colleagues of his intention to resign, Mr Loughton said a new chairman should be in place in October.
He said Mr Vaz had given a “very frank account of what had happened” and that the committee had accepted his resignation “with sadness”.
Home Affairs Committee members held a press conference after Mr Vaz informed them of his resignation
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen has said he would refer the matter to the Commons Standards commissioner and may also report Mr Vaz to police.
Married father-of-two Mr Vaz said he was referring the paper’s allegations to his solicitor.
Keith Vaz biography
- Born in 1956 to Goan parents in Aden in what is now Yemen, he went to Cambridge University where he studied law and then became a solicitor
- The Labour Party politician has been MP for Leicester East since 1987
- He is Parliament’s longest-serving British Asian MP and has chaired the influential Home Affairs Select Committee since 2007
- He was Britain’s Minister for Europe under Tony Blair and said the vote to leave the EU was a “catastrophe”
- His sister Valerie is Labour MP for Walsall South
Keith Vaz – the ‘Teflon politician’
In his statement announcing his resignation from the chairman role he has held for nine years, Mr Vaz said: “The integrity of the select committee system matters to me. Those who hold others to account, must themselves be accountable.
“I am immeasurably proud of the work the Committee has undertaken over the last nine years, and I am privileged to have been the longest serving Chair of this Committee.
“This work has included the publication of 120 reports, hearing evidence from Ministers 113 times, and hearing from a total of 1379 witnesses. I am very pleased that so many Members of the Committee have gone onto high office and Ministerial positions.
“This is my decision, and mine alone, and my first consideration has been the effect of recent events on my family.”
He added: “I would like to thank my fellow members of the Committee, past and present, for their tremendous support. I would also like to thank the Clerks of the House for the amazing work they have done to strengthen the Select Committee system, we are not quite on par with the United States, but we are getting there.”
Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who sits on the Home Affairs committee, said Mr Vaz had done a “fine job” as chairman, but said he had made the right decision in stepping down.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mr Vaz’s future on the party’s ruling National Executive would be discussed when it meets.
He said: “He’s made his decision because he felt that to carry on in the circumstances that he is now involved in would detract from the work of the Home Affairs committee and so he has made that decision for himself.”
Keith Vaz leaving home this morning
Keith Vaz quits Home Affairs select committee after prostitution scandal
BY ANN GRIPPER, The Mirror
Labour MP resigns position heading committee, saying: “Those who hold others to account, must themselves be accountable”
Keith Vaz today quit as chair of the Home Affairs select committee after the Sunday Mirror revealed he paid male escorts for sex at his flat.
He announced he was standing down from his high-profile role on the committee which spearheads probes into immigration, drugs policies and sex workers, and would take no further part in committee business.
Mr Vaz said in a statement: “It is in the best interest of the Home Affairs Select Committee that its important work can be conducted without any distractions whatsoever.
“I am genuinely sorry that recent events make it impossible for this to happen if I remain Chair. I have always been passionate about Select Committees, having served as either Chair or Member for half of my time in Parliament.
“The integrity of the Select Committee system matters to me. Those who hold others to account, must themselves be accountable.”
As chairman of the powerful Commons panel, Mr Vaz has publicly said he was “not convinced” that men who pay for sex should face prosecution.
But within weeks of a report from his committee, he himself paid money to escorts to visit a flat he owns near his family home in Edgware, North West London.
Married father-of-two Mr Vaz, 59, could be hit with three separate inquiries into his conduct, which has rocked Westminster.
A senior Tory fired off three letters calling on the authorities to probe his behaviour.
Mr Vaz could be investigated after Andrew Bridgen wrote to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Hudson, Met Police chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe and the chief executive of the Charity Commission, Paula Sussex .
Keith Vaz — Sunday Mirror broke the story
Yesterday he brazened it out, addressing Parliament during Home Office questions to Home Secretary Amber Rudd just 24 hours after it was revealed he paid male escorts for sex.
The Leicester East MP asked two Commons questions only a day after the Sunday Mirror exposed how he had hired prostitutes for romps and offered to pay for cocaine, though did not want to take the drugs himself.
Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Mr Vaz was greeted with silence in the chamber as he asked Home Secretary Amber Rudd about terror suspects surrendering passports.
Less than an hour later he was grilling Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood over the conflict in Yemen, where Mr Vaz was born.
But he ultimately decided to stand aside for the good of the committee after the Sunday Mirror told how he asked two male escorts to bring poppers to his flat and said: “We need to get this party started.”
Mr Vaz announced his decision in a statement embargoed until 2.45pm, after he was due to have talked to his Select Committee colleagues in a private meeting, but it quickly leaked on Twitter.
Keith Vaz, British Lawmaker, Quits Senior Post Amid Sex and Drug Scandal
LONDON — Caught in what appeared to be a classic British newspaper exposé, an opposition lawmaker on Tuesday relinquished leadership of an influential parliamentary committee over allegations that he paid for the services of prostitutes and offered to buy drugs for them.
Two days after the Sunday Mirror published a report about the encounter involving the lawmaker, Keith Vaz, a prominent member of the Labour Party and a former minister for Europe, Mr. Vaz said it was “in the best interest” of the Home Affairs Select Committee, which he led, for its work to be “conducted without any distractions whatsoever.”
“I am genuinely sorry that recent events make it impossible for this to happen if I remain chair,” Mr. Vaz said in a statement.
After the allegations were published on Sunday, Mr. Vaz argued that it was “deeply disturbing that a national newspaper should have paid individuals to have acted in this way,” adding that he would refer the report to his lawyers.
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