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Scandal-hit Vaz resigns as chair of Commons panel

Scandal-hit Vaz resigns as chair of Commons panel
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Britain’s longest serving Indian-origin Labour MP Keith Vaz on Tuesday resigned from his post as chair of the influential Parliamentary committee, following a sex scandal involving male prostitutes.

The 59-year-old lawmaker has served as chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee for over nine years but told its members at a meeting on Tuesday that he was “genuinely sorry” over recent events, adding that “those who hold others to account must themselves be accountable”. “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,” he said.

“Those who hold others to account must themselves be accountable...I told the committee today of my decision to stand aside immediately from committee business, and my intention to resign. This is my decision, and mine alone, and my first consideration has been the effect of the recent events on my family,” Vaz said.

His resignation follows allegations published by the ‘Sunday Mirror’ tabloid that the married, father of two, had met two male prostitutes from eastern Europe at his London flat last month.

Vaz is also alleged to have told the escorts to bring the party drug known as ‘poppers’ and is also quoted as discussing the possibility of paying for cocaine at a future meeting, but added that he would not take the drug himself. Vaz has recommended that Tim Loughton MP, a senior Conservative party member, chair the panel’s proceedings before an election of a new chair can take place.

“After speaking to the House authorities, I will formally tender my resignation to Mr Speaker so that it coincides with the timetable for the election of other committee chairs, such as the Brexit Committee; Culture, Media and Sport; and Science and Technology, so that the elections can take place together,” the statement said.

He still faces the prospect of a possible investigation by the House of Commons’ watchdog over the tabloid allegations after he was referred to the UK’s Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Hudson, by Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen on Monday.

Vaz – who was born to Goan parents in Aden, Yemen, in 1956 and went on to study law at the Cambridge University – has been a Labour party MP from Leicester East since 1987 and served as minister for Europe in former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s cabinet, becoming the first Indian-origin minister to occupy a senior cabinet portfolio at the time.

The Labour party, meanwhile, seems to be standing by Vaz, with party leader Jeremy Corbyn indicating that there is no need for him to stand down from the party. Corbyn said: “Well, he hasn’t committed any crime that I know of. As far as I’m aware, it is a private matter, and I will obviously be talking to Keith.” 
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