Leicester MP Keith Vaz Quits Home Affairs Select Committee

Keith Vaz MP

Keith Vaz is to quit as head of one of the most influential House of Commons committees after newspaper allegations that he paid two male escorts.

Announcing his resignation, the Labour MP said: ``Those who hold others to account must themselves be accountable.''

Mr Vaz's departure as chairman of the Home Affairs Committee comes days after reports emerged claiming that he paid two male escorts he met at a flat he owns near his family home in north London last month.

The 59-year-old Leicester East MP has said he has referred the allegations to his solicitor.

His chairmanship of the committee has come under intense scrutiny and in a statement on Tuesday Mr Vaz confirmed he would be standing down.

He said: ``It is in the best interest of the Home Affairs Select Committee that its important work can be conducted without any distractions whatsoever. I am genuinely sorry that recent events make it impossible for this to happen if I remain Chair.

``I have always been passionate about select committees, having served as either chair or member for half of my time in Parliament. The integrity of the Select Committee system matters to me. Those who hold others to account, must themselves be accountable.''

He insisted he was ``immeasurably proud'' of the work the committee has carried out over the last nine years, adding that he is ``privileged to have been the longest serving chair of this committee''.

Mr Vaz said the decision to resign and stand aside immediately from the committee's business was ``my decision, and mine alone'' and ``my first consideration has been the effect of recent events on my family''.

He has recommended that, in the interim, Conservative MP Tim Loughton should chair proceedings.

Mr Vaz thanked fellow committee members past and present ``for their tremendous support'', as well as Commons and committee clerks.

Conservative Home Affairs Committee member David Burrowes told BBC Radio 4's World At One: ``I think he has done the right and honourable thing. It was the inevitable thing, I think, given the nature of the allegations and his role as chairman of the committee.

``It wasn't a party political view ... It would have been a cross-party view that would have been given to Keith and he has taken the right view for the good of the committee.''

Mr Burrowes said Mr Vaz was ``an excellent chair'' but his position was ``untenable''. His continued occupancy of the chair would have led the committee's integrity ``being called into question'', he said.

The committee's inquiries into issues like prostitution or drugs ``demand an objective view and one that isn't likely to be conflicted and isn't liable to be undermined or compromised'', said Mr Burrowes.

``What has been exposed through the papers meant he was fatally compromised to continue as chair.''

Mr Vaz said nothing to waiting reporters as he arrived for the meeting, which was being held behind closed doors in a Commons committee room.

The MP was accompanied by an aide carrying a large bouquet of flowers.

The meeting broke up after around 10 minutes as MPs went to take part in a Commons vote. A smiling Mr Vaz made no comment to the press as he left.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Mr Vaz's future on the party's ruling National Executive would be discussed when it meets.

He said: ``He's made his decision because he felt that to carry on in the circumstances that he is now involved in would detract from the work of the Home Affairs Committee and so he has made that decision for himself.''