Probe Against Indian-Origin MP for Hiring Male Escorts Renewed in UK
The investigation against Keith Vaz was suspended last year after the Labour MP claimed to be unwell.
An investigation into allegations against Keith Vaz, the United Kingdom’s longest-serving Indian-origin parliamentarian, has been reopened by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, chief legal ombudsman Kathryn Stone OBE said on March 21.
Vaz came under investigation in 2016 by the ethics watchdog for MPs for allegedly hiring two male escorts in his north London flat and also offering to pay for drugs for them. This was reported after a sting operation was carried out against him. In December 2017, the investigation was suspended by the parliamentary committee after Vaz was deemed unwell to face the probe.
However, the Parliamentary Committee on Standards had been facing criticism for suspending the investigation against Vaz since he had been traveling around and was present at events despite claiming ill health.
In December 2016, the police had stopped investigating the Labour MP after his private life was made public in the Sunday Mirror story. The then 59-year-old politician resigned from his position as Home Affairs Select Committee chairman in September. No one was charged, the police had said then, according to BBC.
The Metropolitan Police Service’s special inquiry team began an assessment process to see “what criminal offenses – if any – may have been committed.”
In parliament, Vaz faces an investigation to ascertain if he violated Code 10 that requires MPs to avoid conflicts between personal and public interest, and Code 16 that specifies that MPs should not cause significant damage to the reputation of the House of Commons.
A spokeswoman for the Commissioner, Stone, said, according to the Times of India: “These inquiries take as long as they take. The Commissioner takes written evidence. She might interview witnesses.”
Stone may find that the breach was minor and order a rectification, but if she feels there was a serious breach, she will refer the matter to the Committee on Standards.
“The Committee can ask a member to apologize to the House or they can suspend a Member or dock a Member’s pay. It might need to go to the floor of the House,” she said. If Vaz is suspended there would a by-election in Leicester East.
In February this year, Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said a police probe should be conducted against Vaz. Bridgen claimed in a letter that Vaz owned eight homes in the United Kingdom and more in India, and also sent his children to fee-paying schools with his MP salary of £74,962. He called for an “Unexplained Wealth Order investigation,” saying that Vaz’s income did not justify the expenditure.