LONDON — A powerful Labour Party lawmaker stepped down Tuesday as chair of a British Parliament committee devoted to law, security and immigration issues after a sex scandal threatened to overshadow the committee’s work.
Keith Vaz was under pressure to resign from the U.K. Home Affairs Select Committee after the Sunday Mirror and the Daily Mirror published stories alleging the married father of two had paid for the services of male escorts.
Vaz has not commented on the substance of the reports, but said they made it impossible for the committee to function without distraction.
“Those who hold others to account must themselves be accountable,” he said.
Born to Goan parents in Yemen, the 59-year-old Vaz was one of the more influential East Asian voices in the House of Commons and has held a number of key posts.
Some reports suggested he faced a no-confidence vote from Conservative Party members of the Home Affairs committee had he not stepped down.
Conservative committee member David Burrowes told the BBC on Tuesday that Vaz had done the right thing.
“It was the inevitable thing, I think, given the nature of the allegations and his role as chairman of the committee,” Burrowes said. “It wasn’t a party political view.”
Burrowes said the committee’s investigations into prostitution and drugs demand objectivity and made his positon untenable.
“What has been exposed through the papers meant he was fatally compromised to continue as chair,” he said.
Vaz said he has referred the newspaper allegations to his lawyer, “who will consider them carefully and advise me accordingly.”