Keith Vaz has resigned as chair of the home affairs select committee following claims that he paid for the services of male escorts.
The Labour MP said he would resign the influential post because recent events had made it "impossible" for the committee to conduct its work while he was in charge.
In a statement released on Tuesday, he said: "The integrity of the select committee system matters to me. Those who hold others to account, must themselves be accountable."
Vaz is the longest-serving chair of the committee after taking up his post in July 2007. He has recommended that Tory MP Tim Loughton become interim chair.
His resignation comes after the Sunday Mirror reported that Vaz met two sex workers in a London flat last month, telling them he was called Jim and sold washing machines for a living.
The MP, who is married with children and has represented Leicester East since 1987, asked the men to bring poppers and offered to pay for a third man’s cocaine, though he didn’t want to take any himself, according to the newspaper.
The committee, which carries out inquiries into home affairs issues including drugs and prostitution, convened in parliament on Tuesday afternoon to confirm that Loughton would become interim chair.
The permanent chair must be a Labour MP and will likely be elected next month. Loughton told reporters that Vaz had taken "the appropriate course of action" by resigning.
"I don't think it is an underestimate to say that the work of the committee under his chairmanship has had a direct and big impact on government policy, on law and also on public opinion as well," he said. "So, it is with sadness that we have lost Keith Vaz as the chairman."
Here is Vaz's resignation statement in full.
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.
I am immeasurably proud of the work the Committee has undertaken over the last nine years, and I am privileged to have been the longest serving Chair of this Committee. This work has included the publication of 120 reports, hearing evidence from Ministers 113 times, and hearing from a total of 1379 witnesses. I am very pleased that so many Members of the Committee have gone onto high office and Ministerial positions.
I told the Committee today of my decision to stand aside immediately from Committee business, and my intention to resign. This is my decision, and mine alone, and my first consideration has been the effect of recent events on my family. I have recommended that in the interim, Tim Loughton MP, the senior Conservative member, should Chair proceedings.
After speaking to the House authorities, I will formally tender my resignation to Mr Speaker so that it coincides with the timetable for the election of other Committee Chairs, such as the Brexit Committee, Culture, Media and Sport, and Science and Technology, so that the elections can take place together.
I would like to thank my fellow members of the Committee, past and present, for their tremendous support. I would also like to thank the Clerks of the House for the amazing work they have done to strengthen the Select Committee system, we are not quite on par with the United States, but we are getting there. They are a vital body for the scrutiny of government. I would like to particularly thank my two Clerks, Tom Healey and Carol Oxborough.
Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Emily Ashton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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