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Keith Vaz pledges to co-operate with police drugs investigation

Published 12/11/2016

Keith Vaz is being investigated by the police over alleged offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
Keith Vaz is being investigated by the police over alleged offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971

Disgraced Labour MP Keith Vaz has promised to co-operate with a drugs investigation launched by police following allegations about his private life.

Mr Vaz, 59, issued a public apology to his wife and children, and quit as chairman of the influential Commons Home Affairs Committee, following newspaper reports he paid two male escorts for their services.

Scotland Yard said police had received a letter on September 7 asking them to look into the matter.

The Metropolitan Police Service's (MPS) Special Enquiry Team, part of Specialist Crime and Operations, began an assessment process to see "what criminal offences - if any - may have been committed," according to Scotland Yard.

A spokesman said: "Following that assessment, which included obtaining early investigative advice from the Crown Prosecution Service, the MPS is now investigating offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

"The investigation started on Thursday November 10."

A statement issued to the Press Association by Keith Vaz's solicitor, Mark Stephens, said: "Our client welcomes a full investigation as a means of establishing the true facts and is confident the police will pursue all lines of inquiry.

"He will cooperate with the investigation in any way he can. He does not intend to comment on this matter any further."

Mr Vaz, the Labour MP for Leicester East, had a conversation regarding cocaine with one of the male escorts in which the MP said he did not want to use the drug, but indicated that he would pay for it for the other man at a later date, according to the Sunday Mirror.

In the wake of the revelations, Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, who has been highly critical of Mr Vaz, said he would write to Scotland Yard calling for Mr Vaz to be investigated for misconduct in a public office and conspiracy to supply controlled substances.

Commons sleaze watchdogs have also launched an inquiry into Mr Vaz.

The probe by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards will determine whether Mr Vaz was guilty of a conflict of interest as he headed the body's review of vice laws at the time of the allegations regarding male escorts.

The sleaze watchdog will also look into whether the former Europe Minister has caused "significant damage" to the reputation of parliament.

However, the standards commissioner's probe has been suspended until the outcome of the police assessment of the Vaz affair is known.

Following the latest developments in the saga, Mr Bridgen said: "I am calling for Keith Vaz to stand down from the Justice Select Committee until all police investigations into his affairs are completed.

"I am also calling for Jeremy Corbyn to do the right thing and suspend Keith Vaz from the Labour Party while the police investigate."

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