Senior Labour MP Keith Vaz and said it is “deeply disturbing” that the Sunday Mirror should have paid male escorts in order to expose his extra-marital sexual activities.
The paper reported yesterday that the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee met two Eastern European prostitutes just over a week ago.
It reported that he paid them £150 each before meeting that at a London flat where they had sex.
Vaz is to stand aside from chairing the key Commons committee. In his Commons role Vaz has said publicly that he is not convinced that men who pay for sex should face prosecution.
In a statement 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.
“At this time I do not want there to be any distraction from the important work the Home Affairs Select Committee undertakes so well.
“Select committees do vital work in holding the government and others to account. We are due to publish two reports, one into anti-Semitism and the other into FGM (female genital mutilation) in the next few days, in addition we have a number of key witnesses.
“I will of course inform committee members first of my plans when we meet on Tuesday. My decision has been based entirely on what is in the best interests of the committee which I have had the privilege of chairing for the last nine years.”
In an earlier 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.”
The Sunday Mirror said Vaz had a conversation regarding cocaine with one of the escorts in which the MP said he did not want to use the drug, but indicated he would pay for it for the other man at a later date.
Vaz also asked the escort to bring party drug poppers with him for the encounter, according to the report.
Labour leader Jeremy 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.”
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen told the Press Association he would write to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards regarding Vaz‘s conduct.
The Sunday Mirror said money was paid into an account used by one of the escorts by a man linked to a charity set up by the MP.
The Charity Commission said the regulator would consider becoming involved in the matter if it felt such action was needed.