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Keith Vaz back in key UK parliamentary panel

world Updated: Nov 01, 2016 19:39 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times
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File photo of British Labour MP Keith Vaz at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, south England, in 2013. (AFP)

Senior Labour MP Keith Vaz, who quit as chairman of the Home Affairs Committee of British parliament in September after a sting operation showed him involved with male prostitutes and drugs, has been voted to join the Justice Committee of the House of Commons. 

His election on Monday evening saw a futile bid by a Conservative MP to block it, but lawmakers voted 203 to seven to appoint him to the panel that provides parliamentary oversight of Britain’s justice system. 

Memberships of parliamentary committees are usually uncontentious, without voting, since every party is allocated seats based on its strength in the House. Labour put forward Vaz’s name to fill a vacancy in the Justice Committee. 

However, Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen forced a vote on the ground that people would not forgive parliamentarians for appointing Vaz to a committee overseeing the justice system when he is facing the police and parliament is looking into complaints against him. 

Bridgen said: "An allegation in the Sunday Mirror, with supporting video footage, implied (Vaz) had offered to purchase class A drugs while using the services of escorts. And yet here we are only a relatively few weeks later and the same member is seeking a position on the prestigious and influential Justice Committee while matters relating to his recent resignation remain. A potential police investigation still hangs over him." 

He added, "I think it'd be a huge mistake for this House to place him in a position on the Justice Committee when he has so many questions to answer."

Vaz resigned as chairman of the Home Affairs Committee after he was caught in a sting operation with male prostitutes in his London flat. The mass circulation Sunday Mirror reported that Vaz paid for the services of four male escorts in August. Vaz, 59, the long-time Labour MP from Leicester East, is a married father of two children.

The tabloids went to town with photographs from the sting operation, his remarks during the encounter and his purported text messages to the male escorts, reported to be European.