28 October 2019 22:41
Labour MP Keith Vaz stepped down as chairman of the Home Affairs Committee after being accused of paying for the services of two male escorts in 2016 (Picture: Rex) Keith Vaz should be suspended for six months for offering to buy cocaine for two male prostitutes, the Commons Standards Committee has recommended. The Labour MP breached the Commons code of conduct 'by expressing willingness to purchase cocaine for another person', the committee said. It added that by failing to co-operate fully with the Commons inquiry process, Mr Vaz had shown 'disrespect for the House's standards system' and caused 'significant damage' to the reputation and integrity of the Commons as a whole. The married MP stepped down as chairman of the Home Affairs Committee in 2016 after being accused of paying for the services of two male escorts. Mr Vaz issued a public apology at the time for the 'hurt and distress' caused to his wife and children.
The scandal was exposed by the Sunday Mirror who claimed the MP hid his real identity from the men he was attempting to buy drugs for, instead telling them he was a washing machine salesman called Jim. He was also accused of trying to procure cocaine and poppers, and of admitting to having unprotected sex with other escorts. Vaz issued a public apology after the cocaine scandal was exposed (Picture: PA) If approved by the Commons, the six month suspension will trigger the terms of recall legislation, allowing constituents to sign a petition on whether Mr Vaz should be forced to seek re-election to his Leicester East seat. An inquiry was launched by the Commons Standards Commissioner in 2016 following the newspaper allegations that he met the two men in his London flat to engage in paid-for sex. In the course of the encounter – which was covertly audio-recorded by one of the men – Mr Vaz was said to have offered to buy illegal drugs for a third person to use. The committee said his explanation that the men were there to discuss the redecoration of the flat and that he may have been given a 'spiked drink' was 'not believable and, indeed, ludicrous'. In a scathing report detailing the findings of her inquiry, commissioner Kathryn Stone found that it was 'more likely than not that Mr Vaz has engaged in paid sexual activity' and said that the recording one of the men made in his flat 'contains evidence of Mr Vaz's apparent willingness to purchase controlled drugs for others to use'. Advertisement She added: 'While his comments regarding this may not amount to a criminal offence, he shows disregard for the law and that, in turn, is disrespectful to the House and fellow Members, who collectively are responsible for making those laws. 'Mr Vaz's conduct has also been disrespectful of the House's system of standards. 'He has not "co-operated at all stages" with the investigation process. He has failed, repeatedly, to answer direct questions; he has given incomplete answers and his account has, in parts, been incredible.' Got a story for Metro.co.uk? Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected] For more stories like this, check our news page.