Monday, October 28, 2019

Standards committee recommends six-month ban for Keith Vaz

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The Commons standards committee has published its report on the conduct of Keith Vaz, the Labour MP for Labour East.

To cut to the chase:
We have found that Mr Vaz acted in breach of paragraph 16 of the 2015 House of Commons Code of Conduct. By expressing willingness to purchase a Class A drug, cocaine, for others to use, thereby showing disregard for the law, and by failing to co-operate fully with the inquiry process, thereby showing disrespect for the House’s standards system, he has caused significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole. 
This is a very serious breach of the Code. We recommend that the House should suspend Mr Vaz from its service for six months. 
We note that this suspension, if agreed by the House, will trigger the provisions of the Recall of MPs Act 2015 and require a recall petition to be opened in Mr Vaz’s constituency.
The report as a whole is damning. Try this:
At the heart of this case is whether the Commissioner’s conclusion that Mr Vaz’s account of the events of 27 August 2016 is “incredible” can be accepted. In our view Mr Vaz has done himself no favours by his inability to provide a single, consistent, plausible account of those events. 
At various times he has claimed that (a) the media report bore no relation to what actually happened, (b) he has no recollection of what actually happened, (c) the meeting was set up to discuss interior decoration and no sexual activity took place, (d) a spiked drink was administered to him (with the implication that this affected his conversation and behaviour), and (e) even if sexual activity had taken place it would have been part of his private and personal life and therefore not subject to the Code of Conduct. 
It is difficult, to put it mildly, to see how all these separate defences could simultaneously be true.

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