London, Sep 4 (IANS) Indian origin British Labour MP Keith Vaz stepped down as chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee following allegations he paid two male prostitutes for sex and offered to cover the cost of Class A drugs at his London flat.
The MP for Leicester East, has issued an apology after the Sunday Mirror reported he met and paid two Eastern European male escorts at his property in Edgware and boasted about having unprotected sex.
During the meeting, the 59-year-old allegedly offered to cover the cost of cocaine if it were brought to the flat, but refused to have any himself.
A series of text messages published by the newspaper allegedly show Vaz asking for the legal “high poppers” to be brought to the meeting. The substance is widely used as a sex-enhancing drug.
Voice recordings of a 90-minute meeting on August 27, also purport to show Vaz examining pictures of men on the gay dating app Grindr, reported The Independent.
In a statement issued to the Mail on Sunday, Vaz, who has been chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee since 2007, 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,” Vaz added.
He said in a statement he believed he had been the victim of a sting operation, saying: “It is deeply disturbing that a national newspaper should have paid individuals to act in this way.”
He added that he had referred the allegations to his solicitor.
A friend of Vaz told the Mail on Sunday, the politician was not resigning entirely and would wait to see if he had enough support from MPs to remain on the committee.
According to the Sunday Mirror, Vaz had at least two meetings with the prostitutes and had made contact with the pair through an escort they knew in London.
The Home Affairs Select Committee is currently overseeing an inquiry into prostitution laws. An interim report recommended significant changes to existing laws so that soliciting and brothel-keeping are decriminalised.