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British lawmaker Keith Vaz resigns over male prostitute scandal

Vaz's story recounted in lurid detail by the Sunday Mirror has provoked a debate about whether the newspaper intruded unfairly into his private life. In photo: Labour MP Keith Vaz leaves his home on September 5, 2016. Photograph: (Getty)

WION London, United Kingdom Sep 06, 2016, 03.04 PM (IST)
Senior Labour lawmaker Keith Vaz resigned today as the head of a high-profile parliamentary committee, days after the Sunday Mirror reported that he was involved in a sex and drugs scandal.

Mirror reported that Vaz, a married father of two, had sought services of male escorts, and also paid them for drugs. He met them at a flat he owns near his family home in North London.

According to a series of text messages published by the Mirror on Sunday, Vaz apparently wanted buy cocaine for a later date, although he made it clear it wasn't for him. 

He also asked a male escort to bring 'poppers' with him. Poppers is a term given to drugs used for recreational purposes, sometimes for sexual encounters.

The 59-year-old former Europe minister chairs the home affairs parliamentary committee which conducts probes into immigration, drugs policies and sex workers. Vaz said that he was resigning so that "important work can be conducted without any distractions".

"Those who hold others to account must themselves be accountable," Vaz said in a statement, AFP reported.

"I am genuinely sorry for the hurt and distress that has been caused by my actions," Vaz said in a statement to the Mail on Sunday.

Vaz has yet to tender his formal resignation to Speaker John Bercow. Caroline Flint, the former home office and Europe minister, has told the Guardian she will put her name forward for the soon-to-be vacant position. 

Umunna, the former business minister, is one of the favourites for the job, The Guardian reported.

Vaz was first elected to the parliament in 1987 for Leicester East in central England. He is British Parliament's longest-serving British Asian MP.

(WION with inputs from agencies)
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