Parliament's sleaze watchdog opens investigation into Keith Vaz


An investigation into disgraced Labour MP Keith Vaz has been launched by Commons sleaze watchdogs.

The probe by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards will determine whether Mr Vaz, who resigned as chairman of the powerful Commons Home Affairs Committee following newspaper reports he paid two male escorts for their services, was guilty of a conflict of interest as he headed the body's review of vice laws at the time of the allegations.

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 a police assessment of the Vaz affair.

When the investigation resumes it will decide whether the Leicester East MP breached a section of the parliamentary code of conduct which states: "Members shall base their conduct on a consideration of the public interest, avoid conflict between personal interest and the public interest and resolve any conflict between the two, at once, and in favour of the public interest."

And it will also examine whether Mr Vaz broke another rule stating: "Members shall never undertake any action which would cause significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole, or of its members generally."

Police have said they will "assess and identify what criminal offences - if any - may have been committed" in the allegations, first reported in the Sunday Mirror.

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

Mr Vaz, 59, a married father of two, made a public apology to his wife and children after the newspaper reports appeared.