Keith Vaz was suicidal after the Sunday Mirror outed him, his wife has revealed.
Married MP Mr Vaz, who held one of the most powerful backbench roles in Parliament, was outed by a Sunday Mirror sting last week.
The newspaper alleged that the Labour politician had sex with two male sex workers, and offered to reimburse them if they bought cocaine – though he made clear he did not want any. He also asked them to bring poppers, which are legal.
There was no suggestion in the story that Mr Vaz broke any law, but he quit as Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee amid the controversy.
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, his wife Maria Fernandes said he was left suicidal following the sting.
Explaining her decision to stick by her husband, she said: “‘I think he was suicidal. We have to look after our own. I am angry with him but my love is greater. Yet if it happens again, I am done.”
When Mr Vaz was 14, his father died by suicide.
Mrs Fernandes added that her husband had exhibited similar traits previously, when he was forced to resign as Minister of State for Europe in 2001.
She recalled: “I think that’s why I looked out for him. He was looking very broken. I think he was suicidal.”
While explaining that she feels betrayed by her husband, Mrs Fernandes said she was more upset by the cheating than by the fact it was men he cheated with.
She said: “I can’t say sex with men is any different… I was betrayed, my trust was betrayed and in a sense it doesn’t matter whether it’s a man or a woman.
“The shock was also the whole scenario of allegedly using sex workers because it’s so unlike him. If I expected anything could have happened, it would have been within a relationship rather than, you know…
“Actually, had it been within a relationship, it could have been worse as there would have been an emotional connection. In a sense it’s better [because money changed hands] but I don’t condone paying for sex.”
The pair are undergoing relationship counselling, but plan to stick by eachother.
Mrs Fernandes vowed: “We’ve reached a very difficult point but you marry for better or for worse. At this moment, it’s the worst period. You just see it through.”
She added that their two children, 18 and 21, have been upset by the scandal.
She continued: “It was a terrible shock and I am still processing it … Keith is not a bad person, he’s just done a terrible thing. It’s absolutely terrible because it’s affected all of us, because it’s affected the kids.
“But he’s a good person, a good father, he’s been a good husband and nine-tenths of the time he’s got things right. This time he’s fallen… badly.”
Going on, she said: “I would have liked to have taken all my crockery and broken it on his head.
“My immediate thought was to tell him to leave then have space to discuss things.”
“I’ve decided to forgive him. That’s different to forgiving him right now. If I don’t forgive him eventually, it is going to tear me up. It’s going to destroy me and I don’t want that. I don’t like that feeling of anger and bitterness.
“Although I’m a lapsed Christian, there is still a Christian part of me that talks about forgiveness because you let go if you forgive. So from that point of view, yes, I’ve made the decision but how it will be done … that’s all to happen in the future.”
If you have been affected by issues in this article, call the Samaritans on 116 123 or visit www.samaritans.org