Keith Vaz has announced that he will not run to become an MP in the December 12 general election. It comes just weeks after the Commons Standards Committee recommended he should be handed a six-month suspension for causing “significant damage” to the reputation of the House. Mr Vaz added the people of Leicester “will always be in my heart”.
In a statement, he said: “I have decided to retire after completing 32 years as the Member of Parliament for Leicester East.
“In that time I have won eight general elections. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve my constituency since I came to the city in 1985.
“I want to thank the people of Leicester East for their absolute loyalty and support.”
Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “Keith Vaz was among the pioneering group of black and Asian Labour MPs elected in 1987.
“I was proud to support his selection and incredibly proud when he won, taking the seat from the Tories.
“Keith has made a substantial and significant contribution to public life, both as a constituency MP for the people of Leicester and for the Asian community across the country.
“He has helped to pave the way for more BAME people to become involved in politics.”
Mr Corbyn added: “His work in Parliament has been exemplary as Britain’s first Asian-origin minister, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, a campaigner on diabetes issues and most recently trying to help the peace process in Yemen.”
Mr Vaz was facing scrutiny after the 62-year-old was found to have “expressed a willingness” to purchase cocaine for others.
He faced calls to stand down from the Labour Party and was at risk of being deselected ahead of the December 12 vote.
A report found he “expressed willingness” to buy two prostitutes cocaine and it was “more likely than not” he had paid for sex.
A statement on Mr Vaz’s website said he was admitted to hospital on the day the committee’s report was published.
It read: “The events of August 27, 2016 were purely personal and private, and occurred in circumstances where neither Mr Vaz’s public nor his Parliamentary role were engaged.
“Mr Vaz has never bought, possessed, dealt with or used illegal drugs. He has a cardiovascular condition which would mean that were he to consume any non-prescribed drugs he would in all likelihood die.
“The Commissioner has confirmed that Mr Vaz has not committed any criminal acts. The referrals made (including by Andrew Bridgen MP) were a waste of police resources.
“Mr Vaz has cooperated at all stages of this process. Mr Vaz vigorously rejects the allegation that he has failed to cooperate with the inquiry.
The Commons Standards Committee said the claims represented a “very serious breach” of the House code of conduct for MPs.
It said that by failing to co-operate fully with the Commons inquiry process, Mr Vaz had shown “disrespect for the House’s standards system” and caused “significant damage” to the reputation and integrity of the Commons as a whole.
Mr Vaz is said to be receiving treatment for a “serious mental health condition” since details of the encounter were published in the Sunday Mirror in 2016.
MPs had endorsed the recommended suspension without a formal vote.
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