UK Politics

MP to report Keith Vaz to Commons Standards watchdog

Keith Vaz Image copyright PA

The Commons Standards watchdog is being urged to investigate Labour MP Keith Vaz over claims in the Sunday Mirror he paid for the services of male escorts.

The paper said the married father-of-two paid for the men to visit him last month at a flat he owns in London.

Tory Andrew Bridgen, who is to write to the commissioner, said he may also report the Home Affairs Committee chairman to the police.

Mr Vaz, 59, says he is referring the paper's allegations to his solicitor.

The Leicester East MP has said it is "deeply disturbing that a national newspaper should have paid individuals to have acted in this way".

Several newspapers have reported that Mr Vaz is to step down as committee chairman but he has not confirmed this, saying he will tell the committee his plans first on Tuesday.

'Untenable'

Speaking on the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme, Mr Bridgen, MP in the neighbouring North West Leicestershire constituency, said Mr Vaz's position was "completely untenable".

He said that while people had the right to a private life there was a "conflict of interest" in his role as chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, which reports on matters such as policing and prostitution.

The MP added: "His position is completely untenable... he should do the decent thing and resign."


Keith Vaz biography:

  • Born to Goan parents in Aden, 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'


Mr Bridgen also said he would contact the Charity Commission over allegations in the Sunday Mirror that money was paid into an account used by one of the escorts by a man linked to a charity set up by the MP. There is no suggestion in the newspaper report that the charity's money was used in the affair.

The Charity Commission said the regulator would consider becoming involved in the matter if it felt such action was needed.

A spokesman told the Press Association: "The Charity Commission is aware of the allegations made regarding an individual linked to the charity Silver Star.

"The commission has asked journalists to forward any details and evidence they have in order to determine whether there is a regulatory role for the commission."

Image caption Conservative Andrew Bridgen said Mr Vaz should resign as an MP

Speaking to the same programme, Simon Danczuk MP said it was "wholly inappropriate" of Mr Bridgen to call for Mr Vaz's resignation as an MP, saying there was "no reason" for him to step down from Parliament.

Mr Vaz has said of the allegations: "It is deeply disturbing that a national newspaper should have paid individuals to have acted in this way.

"I have referred these allegations to my solicitor Mark Stephens of Howard Kennedy who will consider them carefully and advise me accordingly."

He also described it as a "privilege" to be the chairman of the select committee, which monitors crime and drugs policy, for the past nine years.

"I will of course inform committee members first of my plans when we meet on Tuesday. My decision has been based entirely on what is in the best interests of the committee."

'Private matter'

Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who is a member of the committee, said the committee would "collectively come to a view" on Mr Vaz's position.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme: "When you see things like this plastered across the front pages of one national newspaper, and I think every single national newspaper today, you just feel terribly for his family.

"I've met his children and I can't imagine what the family are going through. But I think we need to hear from him first and then we can decide with him the best way to move forward."

Asked if Mr Vaz's position had become untenable, Mr Umunna said: "That's one of the things we will need to discuss with him" and "collectively come to a view on tomorrow."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the allegations as a "private matter".

In response to Mr Vaz's statement criticising the Sunday Mirror, a spokeswoman for the newspaper said the company did not want to be drawn into an argument on the details but said the paper "stands by the story".