Labour MP Keith Vaz should be suspended from the Commons for six months over ‘willingness to purchase cocaine’ for drug-fuelled romps with male prostitutes, standards watchdog rules
- Standards Committee recommended MPs approve a six month Commons ban
- Ban would trigger a recall petition that could see him lose seat at by-election
- It follows an undercover investigation in 2016 by the Sunday Mirror
- He was said to have posed as a washing machine salesman called Jim for romp
Mr Vaz with his daughter Anjali at an event last month
Labour MP Keith Vaz could be booted out of the House of Commons after being blasted by the standards watchdog today for offering to buy drugs for a romp with rent boys.
The Standards Committee recommended today that the veteran Leicester East MP be banned from Parliament for six months after a probe relating to a 2016 investigation by the Sunday Mirror.
But if approved by MPs it would also trigger a recall petition against the married 62-year-old, which allows his constituents to seek a by-election to decide if they want to replace him.
A report into the scandal, which has taken three years to produce, found that Mr Vaz had ’caused significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole’.
It said that he had expressed ‘willingness to purchase a Class A drug, cocaine, for others to use, thereby showing disregard for the law’ and refused to co-operate fully with its inquiry.
Mr Vaz claimed that he invited the men to the flat to discuss ‘interior decoration’, a claim the committee said was ‘ludicrous’. He also claimed he had amnesia.
The report noted: ‘This is a very serious breach of the Code. We recommend that the House should suspend Mr Vaz from its service for six months.
‘We note that this suspension, if agreed by the House, will trigger the provisions of the Recall of MPs Act 2015 and require a recall petition to be opened in Mr Vaz’s constituency.’
Mr Vaz stood down as chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee (HAC) in September 2016 after The Sunday Mirror reported he had discussed buying cocaine with a rent boy.
Describing himself as a washing machine salesman called Jim, he was filmed saying he would pay for the class A drug but would not take it himself.
Text messages allegedly showed him asking the escorts to bring sex-enhancing drugs to his North London flat.
However the report cleared him of breaching Commons rules because the HAC was conducting an inquiry into sex workers at the time his behaviour was revealed.
It added: ‘We are not seeking to judge Mr Vaz’s private life or his personal morality.
‘We note in this context that payment for sexual services, between consenting adults, is not a criminal offence.’
The Sunday Mirror reported he had discussed buying cocaine with a rent boy
He was filmed saying he would pay for the class A drug but would not take it himself
Mr Vaz apologised to his wife of 23 years Maria Fernandes (right), and his children, for the ‘hurt and distress’ he caused them after he was allegedly filmed meeting two rent boys at his flat
Text messages allegedly showed him asking the escorts to bring sex-enhancing drugs to his North London flat
The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner launched a probe into whether Mr Vaz was guilty of a conflict of interest because he had been leading a review of vice laws at the time of the allegations
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen tweeted: ‘1,148 days after my complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, they have has upheld my complaint into Keith Vaz, his conduct during the enquiry shows he is not fit to represent anywhere in Parliament, Leicester deserves much better than this.’
A statement posted on Mr Vaz’s website said: ‘Keith Vaz has been treated for a serious mental-health condition for the last three years as a result of the events of 27th August 2016.
‘He has shared all the medical reports in confidence with the Committee.
‘He has nothing further to say on this matter other than what was said in his oral and written statements to the Committee and to the Commissioner.’
The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner launched a probe into whether Mr Vaz was guilty of a conflict of interest because he had been leading a review of vice laws at the time of the allegations.
The inquiry, following a report by the Sunday Mirror, was subject to repeated delays due to two referrals to the Metropolitan Police – who on each occasion decided not to proceed with a criminal investigation – the 2017 general election and Mr Vaz’s ill health.
It took place under two commissioners for parliamentary standards – Kathryn Hudson and her successor Kathryn Stone.
However, the committee said that if the MP had given a “candid and co-operative account” of the incident from the outset, it could have been concluded much earlier.
The investigation was put on hold from December 2017 until March 2018 due to unknown medical reasons after the MP claimed he was ill. During that time the married father of two visited India and Saudi Arabia.
His busy schedule led to a complaint from fellow Leicestershire MP Mr Bridgen about whether he was really too unwell to be investigated. The Leicester East MP had opened a swimming pool and attended planning meetings.
It its report, released today, the committee said Mr Vaz had suggested he invited the two young men to the London flat near his family home ‘not to engage in paid-for sex but to discuss the interior decoration of his flat’.
But the watchdog branded this claim ‘ludicrous’, adding: ‘We find the evidence to be compelling that Mr Vaz was previously acquainted with the men, that he had paid them money to engage in sexual activity with him, that he had paid money to procure the attendance of a third man also to engage in sexual activity, and that at the conclusion of the encounter … he did engage in sexual activity for which he had paid.’
It also noted he ‘declined to comment on details of his encounter with the two men on grounds of the medical condition of amnesia’.
Mr Vaz in the House of Commons in September 2016 after the Sunday Mirror published the story regarding his interactions with male escorts
Mr Vaz with Speaker John Bercow at a Leicester City match in 2015
Mr Vaz enjoying a diversity night at the Labour Party conference in 2017
Mr Vaz apologised to his wife of 23 years Maria Fernandes, and his children, for the ‘hurt and distress’ he caused them after he was allegedly filmed meeting two rent boys at his flat.
A series of texts allegedly showed he asked the Eastern European sex workers to bring poppers – sex-enhancing drugs – to a liaison.
In one meeting with the pair, revealed in September 2016, Mr Vaz is said to have offered to pay for cocaine if it was brought to a sex party – but stressed he did not want any himself.
Mr Vaz, who took part in a safe sex campaign in his Leicester East constituency the year before, apparently told the male escorts that during an encounter with another prostitute they all knew, the man had forgotten to bring a condom but they had sex anyway.