Labour MP Keith Vaz will announce whether he will step down as chair of the home affairs select committee when it next meets, after a tabloid published claims that he had allegedly paid for sex with two male escorts.
Vaz had appeared to say last night that he would quit as chair of the influential committee in light of the Sunday Mirror article.
But in a statement issued on Sunday afternoon he said no announcement would be made until Tuesday.
The Sunday Mirror said Vaz met with two sex workers in a London flat last month, telling them he was called Jim and sold washing machines for a living.
The veteran 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 Sunday Mirror.
Vaz's statement said: "It is deeply troubling that a national newspaper should have paid individuals who 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."
The statement continued:
"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 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 9 years.
Vaz has been the chair of the committee since 2007 and was re-elected to the position in 2015.
Earlier this year, the committee led an inquiry on prostitution: Its findings, published in July, called for sex work to be decriminalised, and the committee is now waiting for a response from the government.
Former cabinet minister John Whittingdale, who earlier this year confirmed he had a relationship with a sex worker, had welcomed initial reports Vaz was stepping down, telling the Sky News Murnaghan programme this morning that "given the areas for which the committee is responsible, that does seem to me to be a sensible course of action".
Sex workers' collectives tweeted in support of the committee's recommendations this morning:
BuzzFeed News has contacted the Labour party for comment.
Marie Le Conte is a politics and media reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Marie Le Conte at email@example.com.
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