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Keith Vaz quits as Home Affairs committee chair after being outed in sex scandal

Nick Duffy September 6, 2016

Keith Vaz has confirmed he will step down as chair of Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee, after a tabloid reported he had sex with male prostitutes.

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 is no suggestion that Mr Vaz broke any law, but opponents say he has a conflict of interest due to the Committee’s investigations into sex work and drugs.

Mr Vaz has today quit as the Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee,

In his first full statement since the story broke, 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. I have always been passionate about Select Committees, having served as either Chair or Member for half of my time in Parliament. 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 9 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 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.

“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 recent events on my family.

“I have recommended that in the interim, Tim Loughton MP, the senior Conservative member, should Chair proceedings.”

He added: “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.

“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. They are a vital body for the scrutiny of government. I would like to particularly thank my two Clerks, Tom Healey and Carol Oxborough.”

“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.

“They are a vital body for the scrutiny of government. I would like to particularly thank my two Clerks, Tom Healey and Carol Oxborough.”

Parts of the press have responded to the story with homophobia.

Daily Mail columnist Quentin Letts branded Mr Vaz ‘camp’ and ‘flamboyant’ in an article which mocked him as “a cut-price Lady Bracknell”.

Meanwhile, the right-wing blog Guido Fawkes branded Mr Vaz a “nonce” in a cartoon which showed him watching “Strictly Come Noncing”.

More: escorts, Home Affairs Select Committee, Keith Vaz, poppers, rent boys, sunday mirror

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