Keith Vaz, Britain’s longest serving Indian-origin MP has resigned from his post as Chairman of Home Affairs Select Committee over alleged sex with male prostitutes.
Various media reports say Mr Vaz has quit his role after bowing to pressure from MPs. The Leicester East Labour MP said: “Those who hold others to account must themselves be accountable.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was a “private matter” whereas Prime Minister Theresa May said the public must have confidence in its politicians.
Mr Vaz is also facing a possible investigation by the Commons’ watchdog over the allegations that he was involved in asking male escorts to visit his London flat last month.
Speaking on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, former mayor of London Ken Livingstone said he had known Mr Vaz for 40 years and said he had always been on the side of social justice. “I think someone’s private life should be private,” he said.
The Home Affairs Select Committee conducts probes into immigration, drugs policies and sex workers.
Mr Vaz, was born in Yemen to parents from the Indian state of Goa. He was first elected to parliament in 1987 for Leicester East.
Keith Vaz full statement: “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.
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. 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.”