KEITH Vaz has been suspended from Parliament for six months today, three years after his rent boy and drugs scandal came out.
The House of Commons approved the findings of the Standards Committee which earlier this week found compelling evidence that he paid two men for sex and offered to buy them cocaine.
Keith Vaz has been suspended from the Commons for six months over his offer to buy cocaine for rent boys
But the chair of the committee, Kate Green, warned that MP for Leicester East could still avoid the sanction, as it will effectively be wiped out by the dissolution of Parliament for the election.
Labour backed the report in the Commons but Vaz is yet to have the whip removed or be deselected from his constituency.
The report debate sparked a furious row between Speaker John Bercow and Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, who initiated the complaint against Mr Vaz.
Mr Bridgen accused the Speaker of failing to take action against his “friend” earlier.
But Mr Bercow thundered back on his last day in the chair that it was not his responsibility to intervene in standards issues.
Mr Vaz, who has been the MP for Leicester East since 1987, claimed to be a washing machine salesman called Jim when the two men were invited to his North London apartment in August 2016.
He offered to cover the cost of cocaine for them but insisted he did not want any himself.
Mr Vaz told investigators he did not pay for sex and the men were there to discuss “decorating his flat”.
The committee said his explanation the escorts were there to discuss the redecoration of the flat and that he may have been given a “spiked drink” was “not believable and, indeed, ludicrous”.
After the scandal broke, the Labour MP, 62, issued a public apology to his wife and kids and quit as head of the Home Affairs committee in 2016.
However, he was appointed to the Justice Select Committee just a month later, in October 2016, after he was nominated by his party.
Parliament’s sleaze watchdog yesterday found he significantly damaged the reputation of parliament by “expressing willingness to purchase” cocaine for male prostitutes, and has ordered the longest ever suspension of an MP.
It said that by failing to co-operate fully with the Commons inquiry process, Mr Vaz had shown “disrespect for the House’s standards system” and caused “significant damage” to the reputation and integrity of the Commons.
The inquiry was repeatedly delayed by the two police referrals – which did not lead to a prosecution – the 2017 election and Mr Vaz’s “ill health”.
Following yesterday’s long-awaited findings, Tory MP Andrew Bridgen tweeted: “1148 days after my complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, they have has upheld my complaint into Keith Vaz, his conduct during the enquiry shows he is not fit to represent anywhere in Parliament, Leicester deserves much better than this.”
A statement posted on Mr Vaz’s website yesterday said: “Keith Vaz has been treated for a serious mental-health condition for the last three years as a result of the events of August 27 2016.
“He has shared all the medical reports in confidence with the Committee.
“He has nothing further to say on this matter other than what was said in his oral and written statements to the Committee and to the Commissioner.”
ADMITTED TO HOSPITAL
But in a later statement it added: “The events of August 27, 2016 were purely personal and private, and occurred in circumstances where neither Mr Vaz’s public nor his Parliamentary role were engaged.
“Mr Vaz has never bought, possessed, dealt with or used illegal drugs. He has a cardiovascular condition which would mean that were he to consume any non-prescribed drugs he would in all likelihood die.
“The Commissioner has confirmed that Mr Vaz has not committed any criminal acts. The referrals made (including by Andrew Bridgen MP) were a waste of police resources.
“Mr Vaz has cooperated at all stages of this process. Mr Vaz vigorously rejects the allegation that he has failed to cooperate with the inquiry.
“He has today been admitted to hospital and this office will not be making any further comments.”
The committee recommended Mr Vaz be banned from Parliament for six months.
If approved by MPs, the six-month suspension would be the longest ban given to any MP since records began in 1949.
Mr Vaz is Parliament’s longest-serving British Asian MP.
He has faced a string of controversies during his Parliamentary career.
In 2000 the Parliamentary standards watchdog found that he had failed to declare two payments worth at total of 4,500 from a solicitor.
In 2001 he was sacked as Tony Blair’s Europe minister over his links with the wealthy Hinduja brothers.
He was previously suspended from the Commons for one months in 2002 after the standards and privileges committee found he had recklessly made a damaging and untrue allegation against a former police officer who had made a complaint about him.