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Keith Vaz set to quit after claims he paid male escorts for services

By Shaun Connolly

Published 05/09/2016

Standing aside: Keith Vaz
Standing aside: Keith Vaz

Labour MP Keith Vaz is poised to stand down as chairman of the influential Commons Home Affairs committee after a newspaper alleged he paid for the services of male escorts.

The Sunday Mirror alleged Mr Vaz met the men at his flat in north west London on August 27.

In a statement, Mr Vaz said: "It is deeply disturbing that a national newspaper should have paid individuals to have acted in this way. I have referred these allegations to my solicitor Mark Stephens of Howard Kennedy who will consider them carefully and advise me accordingly."

In a separate statement issued to the Mail on Sunday, the Leicester East MP said: "I am genuinely sorry for the hurt and distress that has been caused by my actions, in particular to my wife and children.

"I will be informing the Committee on Tuesday of my intention to stand aside from chairing the sessions of the Committee with immediate effect."

Naz Shah, a member of the Home Affairs Committee, told Sky News she had spoken to Mr Vaz, adding "he has done the right thing" by standing aside.

A Labour Party spokeswoman said: "Keith Vaz has issued a statement on this matter.

"As with all departmental select committees, Keith was elected to the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee by the House of Commons, and his position is a matter for him and the House."

The Home Affairs Committee is currently probing a review of prostitution laws.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn insisted the controversy was a private matter.

"I think it should be treated as a private matter. He is going to meet the Home Affairs Select Committee and discuss with them what his role will be in the future. I'm not sure what that decision will be. I leave it to him to decide on that," he told the BBC.

Asked if he was happy for Mr Vaz to remain in the Labour Party, Mr Corbyn said: "Well, he hasn't committed any crime that I know of. As far as I'm aware it is a private matter, and I will obviously be talking to Keith."

Former culture secretary John Whittingdale said that Keith Vaz's reported resignation seemed "sensible".

"I haven't read the whole of the allegations and therefore it's difficult to comment on them," he told Sky News's Murnaghan programme. "But Keith Vaz, as I understand it, will stand aside from the chairmanship of the select committee.

"Given the areas of which the committee is responsible, that does seem to me to be a sensible course of action."

Mr Vaz, who is married with two children, was first elected as an MP in June 1987.

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