Keith Vaz quits as Home Affairs Committee chairman
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".
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
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."