Keith Vaz Contents

Report

Introduction

1.This Report arises from a complaint that Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP breached the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament by allowing a conflict of interest to arise between his private behaviour and his role as Chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC).

2.The previous Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (PCS) conducted an inquiry which was continued by her successor, who has submitted a memorandum which we publish with this report as an Appendix.1

3.We have taken oral evidence in private from Mr Vaz and received a considerable quantity of written material from him, his legal representatives and medical advisers. We invited and received from the Commissioner some additional material in response to Mr Vaz’s oral and written submissions. Most of this documentation is published with our Report. However, for reasons we set out more fully below,2 some of the material we publish has been redacted, and a number of documents we have received will not be placed in the public domain on grounds of medical or personal confidentiality.

4.Despite the protracted nature of the inquiry and the quantity of documentation it has generated, we believe the essential issues in this case are relatively simple. In this Report we concentrate on those essential issues. We will, where appropriate, make clear why we have not engaged in detail with a number of matters raised by Mr Vaz during the Commissioner’s inquiry and our consideration of the case which we consider to be irrelevant or of marginal relevance to the core issues.

5.We also emphasise at the outset that the Committee’s aim has been to establish whether the rules of the House have been complied with, not to investigate Mr Vaz’s private life or pass judgement on issues of sexual morality.

The Commissioner’s inquiry

6.On 4 September 2016 an article appeared in the Sunday Mirror based on a recorded meeting between Mr Vaz and two people whom the newspaper described as “male escorts”. The article claimed that Mr Vaz had paid these men for sex and that he had offered to pay for cocaine to be bought for others to use.3

7.On 5 September 2016 Mr Andrew Bridgen MP wrote to the Commissioner alleging Mr Vaz had breached the Code of Conduct for Members, on the grounds that there was a conflict of interest between his role as the Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, which had been conducting inquiries into prostitution and psychoactive drugs, and his apparent relationships with sex workers and his offer to pay for drugs.

8.The previous Commissioner, Kathryn Hudson, began an inquiry on 12 September 2016. She told Mr Vaz that she would consider whether he had breached Paragraphs 10 and 16 of the 2015 Code of Conduct. Paragraph 10 stated that: “Members shall base their conduct on a consideration of the public interest, avoid conflict between personal interest and the public interest and resolve any conflict between the two, at once, and in favour of the public interest.” Paragraph 16 stated that: “Members shall never undertake any action which would cause significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole, or of its Members generally.” (In 2018 the Code of Conduct was revised: paragraph 10 has become paragraph 11, and paragraph 16 is now paragraph 17. In this Report, for the avoidance of ambiguity, we shall refer throughout to those paragraphs by the numbering which was in force in 2016.)

9.The inquiry begun by Kathryn Hudson has been continued by the present Commissioner, Kathryn Stone, who has been in post since January 2018.4 The inquiry has been subject to a number of delays arising from (a) two referrals to the Metropolitan Police, who on each occasion decided not to proceed with a criminal investigation, (b) the Dissolution of Parliament for the general election in 2017 and (c) Mr Vaz’s ill health.5 The Commissioner’s memorandum provides a summary of key steps in the inquiry and a chronological list of events.6

10.On 22 May 2019 the Commissioner sent Mr Vaz a draft of her memorandum. On 17 July she sent a final version to the Committee. Some of the material in the inquiry was, unusually, redacted from the memorandum in the interests of protecting sensitive personal information. That material has been made available in full to Committee members under secure conditions in the Commissioner’s office.

The Commissioner’s conclusions

11.In her memorandum the Commissioner reached the following conclusions:

The evidence I have seen does not demonstrate that Mr Vaz had any involvement in the use of drugs relevant to the Committee’s inquiry regarding psychoactive substances at a time relevant to the Committee’s work on that inquiry. I do not uphold the allegation that he should have recused himself from the work of the Home Affairs Select Committee on its Report on Psychoactive drugs.

The evidence that I have seen and heard leads me to conclude that it is more likely than not that Mr Vaz has engaged in paid sexual activity. The evidence does not show that he did so while the Committee was conducting its inquiry into prostitution. I cannot, therefore, say with any certainty that Mr Vaz should have recused himself from any Committee discussions about criminalisation of prostitution. I do not uphold the allegation that he should have recused himself from the work of the Home Affairs Select Committee on its report on prostitution.

I uphold the allegation that Mr Vaz acted in breach of paragraph 16 of the 2015 House of Commons’ Code of Conduct for Members. The audio-recording contains evidence of Mr Vaz’s apparent willingness to purchase controlled drugs for others to use. While his comments regarding this may not amount to a criminal offence, he shows disregard for the law and that, in turn, is disrespectful to the House and fellow Members, who collectively are responsible for making those laws. Mr Vaz’s conduct has also been disrespectful of the House’s system of standards. He has not “co-operated at all stages” with the investigation process. He has failed, repeatedly, to answer direct questions; he has given incomplete answers and his account has, in parts, been incredible. I do not believe he has given me or my predecessor a full and accurate account of the relevant events.7

The Committee’s consideration of the case

12.On 19 July 2019 the Clerk of the Committee wrote to Mr Vaz enclosing the Commissioner’s memorandum and offering him, as is customary, the opportunity to submit written evidence and to request to submit oral evidence. Mr Vaz responded saying that he would submit written evidence by 30 August and wished to give oral evidence. On 23 July the Committee agreed to accept Mr Vaz’s request to give oral evidence. His written evidence was submitted on 30 August. The Committee took oral evidence in private from Mr Vaz on 9 September; the transcript of that evidence is published with this Report, with redactions requested by Mr Vaz and approved by the Committee (these chiefly relate to personal medical matters).

13.Following the evidence session, Mr Vaz submitted further written evidence. We asked the Commissioner (who had not been present at the evidence session) to comment on Mr Vaz’s oral evidence and his initial written evidence. We showed the Commissioner’s comments to Mr Vaz, who has submitted further evidence in response. The supplementary evidence from Mr Vaz and the Commissioner is published with this Report, with redactions as requested by Mr Vaz to protect certain personal details and medical information.

14.In her memorandum published with this Report, the Commissioner has provided full details of her inquiry, including a detailed chronology of events. In this Report we will not recapitulate the background detail and supporting information given in the Commissioner’s memorandum. We will focus on considering the counter-arguments deployed by Mr Vaz in his challenge to the Commissioner’s conclusions that he had breached the Code of Conduct.

15.In addition, we consider whether the Commissioner was correct not to uphold one of the allegations against Mr Vaz (the alleged conflict of interest arising from HASC’s work on prostitution); in doing so we take into account recent representations on this specific matter from Mr Vaz.

Credibility of Mr Vaz’s version of events

The incident on 27 August 2016

16.The Commissioner states that:

At around 11.30 pm on the evening of 27 August 2016 two men visited Mr Vaz at a flat he owns, not far from his family home. An audio-recording of those events was made covertly by one of the two men. The Committee will have the opportunity to listen to the full unedited audio-recording and to read the un-redacted transcript.8

17.The two men arranged with the Sunday Mirror to engage Mr Vaz in a ‘sting’ operation. The article which appeared in the newspaper on 4 September 2016 alleged that the covert recording revealed that:

“Keith Vaz, a married father of two, is leading a double life paying young male escorts for sex [ … .]. Mr Vaz paid the escorts in cash. Money was also paid into a bank account used by one of them by a man linked to a charity set up by the MP. While chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Mr Vaz has publicly said he was “not convinced” that men who pay for sex should face prosecution. Within weeks of a report from the committee, he himself paid money to escorts in a flat he owns near his family home in [ … ] North West London. Mr Vaz has had at least two meetings with the escorts. In a 90-minute rendezvous on August 27, the former Minister for Europe offered to cover the cost of cocaine if it was brought to the flat–but said he did not want any himself. [ … .] The Sunday Mirror can reveal Mr Vaz first made contact with the two younger men after meeting a fellow escort they knew in London. At least one meeting took place before Mr Vaz met the pair again eight days ago.”9

18.The newspaper article alleged that Mr Vaz engaged in sexually related banter with the two men and that a sexual encounter then followed. The article claimed there was also extended discussion of hoped-for participation by a third man for whom Mr Vaz had paid money in advance, but who in the event did not turn up. It was in connection with this third man that Mr Vaz allegedly made an offer to procure cocaine.10

19.Trinity Mirror plc subsequently supplied the previous Commissioner with the full audio-recording together with a transcript.11 The audio-recording lasts for about an hour and three-quarters.

20.The Commissioner has found that Mr Vaz was in breach of the Code of Conduct as a result of showing disregard for the law by expressing willingness to buy cocaine. She also found that he had treated the House’s standards system with disrespect by, amongst other things, giving an incredible account of the incident at his flat on 27 August 2016. She did not uphold the allegation about potential conflicts of interest when the select committee he chaired was conducting work relating to prostitution and drugs. All these findings arise from the incident on 27 August 2016. It is therefore central to our consideration of the case to establish as clearly as possible what actually took place on this occasion, insofar as that is relevant to the Commissioner’s findings.

21.Mr Vaz has responded to questions about the 27 August 2016 incident in the following ways:

a)He has argued that the audio-recording and transcript are not to be relied upon.

b)He has asserted that the purpose of his encounter with the two men was not to engage in paid-for sex but to discuss the interior decoration of his flat.

c)He has implied that because the encounter was a newspaper ‘sting’ operation, the two men ‘steered’ the conversation with Mr Vaz in ways which give a misleading impression.

d)He has declined to comment on details of his encounter with the two men on grounds of the medical condition of amnesia.

We will consider in turn each of these responses by Mr Vaz. We also consider one specific aspect of the incident on 27 August 2016, namely the allegation that Mr Vaz expressed a willingness to buy illegal drugs for use by a third party.

Reliability of the audio-recording and transcript

22.As we have seen, Trinity Mirror plc supplied the previous Commissioner with a full audio-recording of the encounter between Mr Vaz and two men at his flat. The present Commissioner comments that:

Mr Vaz has never denied that his is one of the three voices audible on the audio-recording [ … ] I am satisfied that Mr Vaz is one of the three men who can be heard speaking on the recording.12

23.The Commissioner appends to her memorandum extracts from reports by two experts (Dr Frederika Holmes retained by Mr Vaz, Iain McArthur by the Commissioner) on the audio-recording.13 She notes that neither expert has identified evidence of the full unpublished audio-recording having been manipulated. She continues, “having listened to the recording several times, I am satisfied that the transcript provided by Trinity Mirror is sufficiently accurate for me to draw conclusions on the balance of probability about the activity that took place, and about the meaning of what was said that evening.”14

24.In support of the evidential value of the audio-recording, the Commissioner states that:

[Mr Vaz] participated coherently throughout the whole of that recording. He spoke about different topics and referred to previous meetings with the two men, as well as to details about their personal circumstances which demonstrated foreknowledge of their personal circumstances. This included knowledge of a pet dog and of the study plans of one of the men. I am not persuaded that the recording could have been manipulated to achieve that effect.15

25.Mr Vaz in his evidence argues that his expert, Dr Holmes, has:

cast significant doubt on (a) the reliability of the audio recording and transcript as well as, crucially, (b) the putative authority of Mr McArthur to offer any opinions on this matter in light of his woefully inadequate qualifications and experience in this field [ … ] Mr McArthur is an audio engineer rather than a forensic expert and as such is wholly unqualified to provide an expert opinion on matters of speech and language.16

Mr Vaz therefore argued that the audio-recording and transcript are “wholly unreliable as evidence “.17

26.Dr Holmes’s report includes the following statements which are in accord with the findings of Mr McArthur:

The acoustic characteristics of the recording were consistent with what is typically found when a face-to-face conversation between several speakers is covertly recorded on a mobile phone. [ … ] The signal-to-noise ratio was reasonably good for most of the recorded speech, apart from the intermittent sections with high noise masking. In terms of the intelligibility of the recorded speech, the technical quality of the recording ranged from very good to poor [ … ] but overall was judged to be reasonable for a recording of this type.18

[The] principal section of conversation [running between recording timings 00:05:42and 01:41:50, i.e. the whole of the tape apart from the very beginning and very end] appeared to involve an older male speaker with speech patterns suggesting a native speaker of British English, albeit with some distinctive accent features, and what appeared to be two younger speakers who were not native English speakers, and whose speech contained varying levels of L1 influence suggesting an Eastern European language background.19

[ … ] no evidence was found of significant signal discontinuities that might suggest unskilled editing. [ … ] no evidence was found of the kind of inconsistencies that might lead to the assumption that sections of speech had been removed, inserted or otherwise temporally dislocated.20

27.Dr Holmes makes a number of specific criticisms of the transcript, including the following:

A significant number of discrepancies was noted between the speech recording and the transcribed content, where the transcription did not represent the recorded speech fully and accurately. Some of these discrepancies were relatively minor, others potentially more significant. Because of the constraints placed on me in terms of time and working conditions, it was not possible to attempt a detailed schedule or a re-transcription of these discrepancies, but the transcript supplied to me cannot be regarded as an accurate record of the recorded conversation.21

28.The greater part of Dr Holmes’ report consists of a critique of Mr McArthur’s qualifications for the job at hand combined with general reflections on the potential unreliability of sound recordings and transcriptions. We note that, as the quotation cited in the previous paragraph makes clear, Dr Holmes does not provide specific instances where she considers there are errors in the transcription of comments attributed to Mr Vaz, and relied upon by the Commissioner in arriving at her findings.

29.In assessing the reliability of the audio-recording and the accuracy of the transcript, we note that Mr Vaz does not in any way explain the relevance of his and Dr Holmes’s criticisms of these. Mr Vaz does not say that he definitely was not there when the recording was made, or that the content of the conversation was not as it appears on the recording. His one assertion on the point appears to be that he does not remember the events of that evening (for which, see paragraphs 44 to 46 below), which naturally provides no evidence as to the accuracy or otherwise of the recording and transcript. In the absence of any explanation of how or why he considers that the recording has been doctored, or that the transcript in any key particular misrepresents what he said, it is a matter of fact for the Committee to consider, on the balance of probabilities, whether it is reasonable to suppose that any such doctoring or misrepresentation has taken place.

30.The Committee has considered carefully the arguments put forward by the Commissioner and Mr Vaz, and the reports of Dr Holmes and Mr McArthur. Members of the Committee have listened to the full audio-recording and read the unredacted transcript, both being kept under secure conditions in the Commissioner’s office. They have reported back to the full Committee their conclusions, which are that they see no reason to doubt the genuineness of the audio-recording or to suppose it has been doctored or tampered with; and they consider that the transcript may be relied upon as a competent transcription of those parts of the conversation audible in the recording which are germane to the Commissioner’s findings. While Dr Holmes has raised queries about some details of the transcript, these do not undermine its general credibility, and there can be no room for doubt about the import of the whole. We accept these conclusions, and therefore reject Mr Vaz’s argument that the audio-recording and transcript are “wholly unreliable as evidence”.

Purpose of the encounter and alleged ‘steering’ of the conversation

31.Mr Vaz denies that the purpose of his encounter with the two men on 27 August 2016 was to engage in paid-for sex. He asserts that the purpose was to discuss the redecoration of the flat in which the meeting took place. He claims that this was necessary because an ambitious programme of redecoration of his main residence, a detached house in north London, was about to begin; for the duration of those works Mr Vaz and his wife would need to relocate to the nearby flat which he also owned. They needed to move in there not later than Monday 5 September, on which date the House of Commons was due to return from its summer recess, requiring Mr Vaz’s attendance at Westminster. The plan, he has argued, was for the flat to receive a quick, temporary redecoration in the week beginning Monday 29 August, to ready it for occupancy in the following week. Because this work had to be done at short notice, and because Mr Vaz had a crowded diary of engagements (which he has supplied us with),22 the only date and time at which he could see the prospective decorators of his flat was at 11.30 pm on Saturday 27 August. Mr Vaz argues that his busy schedule means that he often arranges working meetings during the evening and that there was nothing out of the ordinary in this arrangement. He also claims that he did not previously know the two men who called at his flat, and had no reason to think that they were “prostitutes” or had any wish to engage in sexual activity.

32.As we shall see in the following section of this report, Mr Vaz claims to have practically no recollection of what happened in the encounter with the two men. However, he has consistently maintained that the meeting was set up to discuss flat redecoration and that there is no evidence that the two men were “prostitutes”.

33.The Commissioner concludes that none of the arguments deployed by Mr Vaz, nor the documentation supplied by him, establishes that the purpose of the meeting was as he claims. She states that:

I found Mr Vaz’s account of the events that led to the media reports incredible [ … ].

– Mr Vaz told my predecessor that he had never knowingly met the two men who came to his flat on 27/28 August 2016. Yet, he allowed them into his flat at 11.30 on a Saturday evening without asking who they were.

– There was no discussion of the painting and decorating which Mr Vaz says was the reason for the men visiting during the hour-and-a-half they spent at his flat, and he showed prior knowledge of their personal lives. I find Mr Vaz’s explanation for their visit incredible.23

[ … ] My predecessor did not accept, and nor do I, Mr Vaz’s explanation that the men concerned had come, at 11.30pm on a Saturday evening in connection with plans to decorate his flat.24

[ … ] Mr Vaz has told me that he has never paid for sex. I do not believe that is true. I believe that any reasonable person listening to the unedited audio-recording would conclude that sexual activity took place. [ … ] I also believe that Mr Vaz paid for that activity. Although some of the references to payment are made by the two men, Mr Vaz himself asks “will they come for money” about other men; he says “I can’t pay to send him back again” of the other man who had been expected that evening and says of himself–in relation to one of the two men present–“I feel as if I’m his bank manager …”. These comments are not consistent with a conversation between a client and painters and decorators, whom the client has not met before.25

34.The Commissioner notes that Mr Vaz has supplied various estimates for external work on his house and photographs of scaffolding around the property. However, these relate to his main property, not the flat where the events of 27 August 2016 took place, and are therefore irrelevant.26

35.Mr Vaz argues that the two men were not prostitutes but conmen. He has produced material which purports to support this interpretation, including a statement apparently made by the mother of one of the men denying that her son is a prostitute, and allegations of various scams carried out by the men in Poland.27 His conclusion is that “while the two individuals could accurately be described as conmen, it is quite wrong that they should ever have been described as prostitutes”.28

36.Mr Vaz’s evidence also emphasises that the events of 27 August 2016 were a ‘sting’ operation, and claims that “there can be no doubt that Mr Vaz was the victim of subterfuge and entrapment”.29 The implication is that the two men, acting as paid agents of a newspaper, “steered” the conversation in directions designed to support the story the newspaper wished to publish.

37.Mr Vaz himself argues that the conversations in the flat “were private and highly sensitive” (our italics)30 - which appears to be an oblique admission that they involved matters more intimate than interior decoration, the latter being a topic which might be described as “private” but could hardly reasonably be called “highly sensitive”.

38.We do not propose to recite the numerous instances in the recording where Mr Vaz discusses or appears to engage in sexual activity. However, one example may be worth citing in order to indicate the nature of the relationship between Mr Vaz and his visitors, as well as the strong evidence for his having prior knowledge of them, both of which reflect on the credibility of his account. Mr Vaz compliments one of the men for being on time, and says “You’re always on time, actually. [ … ] Except for that other chap, what was his name, you brought me the first time? [ … ] He was OK. He forgot the condom though. I had to f*** him without a condom.”31

39.We began this Report by commenting that “the essential issues in this case are relatively simple”. The incident which took place in Mr Vaz’s flat in the evening of 27 August 2016 is a case in point. Despite the many pages of material and multiple arguments produced by Mr Vaz, no reasonable person who has listened to the audio-recording of that incident or read the transcript could believe his claim that the purpose of the two men’s visit was to discuss interior decoration. Not only was that subject not mentioned at any point in the conversation, but Mr Vaz adopted an assumed name and claimed not to be the owner of the flat but merely the friend of the owner. The supporting evidence from Mr Vaz in defence of the interior decoration claim (for instance, photographs of his main house, not the flat) is unconvincing or irrelevant.

40.The actual reason for Mr Vaz’s invitation to the two men is equally clear. We find the evidence to be compelling that Mr Vaz was previously acquainted with the men, that he had paid them money to engage in sexual activity with him, that he had paid money to procure the attendance of a third man also to engage in sexual activity, and that at the conclusion of the encounter (when those present had finally accepted that the third man was not going to arrive) he did engage in sexual activity for which he had paid. We support the conclusions of the Commissioner on this matter, and would add, on the basis of our own examination of the audio-recording and transcript, that as well as the evidence she brings forward in support of her interpretation of events, numerous other instances from the recording and the transcript could also be presented. Mr Vaz’s claims as to the purpose of the encounter are, frankly, ludicrous.

41.We also support the Commissioner’s conclusion that on the balance of probabilities it is likely that Mr Vaz had engaged in paid-for sex on previous occasions (though the details and timing of this probable activity cannot be determined on the basis of the available evidence).

42.With regard to Mr Vaz’s argument that he was the victim of entrapment, it is, strictly speaking, not relevant that the covert recording was made by individuals who were paid by a newspaper to be there. Mr Vaz has not produced cogent or convincing evidence to show that they coerced or induced him to behave in a way that was out of character or inconsistent with previous conduct. It is almost certainly true that the conversation was being “steered” by the two men, but there is no evidence to suggest that Mr Vaz was being steered in directions he was unwilling to go.

43.The Commissioner has not relied on any testimony from either of the two men, and therefore it is hard to see the relevance of Mr Vaz’s comments on their characters and backgrounds.

The claim of amnesia

44.Mr Vaz claims to have suffered memory loss as to the events of 27 August 2016. The Commissioner notes that Mr Vaz first mentioned his amnesia when interviewed by her predecessor Kathryn Hudson on 27 April 2017, eight months after the incident, and more than three months after he wrote a letter to Ms Hudson in which, to use his own words, he “respond[ed] in full to the allegations made against him”.32 The Commissioner cites comments made by Mr Vaz earlier in the investigation which implied that he did recollect what had happened: for instance, his comments to Ms Hudson that the media report “bore no relation to what actually occurred” and that it was “heavily embellished and largely inaccurate”.33 She notes numerous occasions prior to April 2017 when he had had the opportunity to tell Kathryn Hudson that he could not recollect what had happened, but did not do so. She concludes that “I find it very surprising that he did not say from the start that he had no memory of the events in question.”34

45.Mr Vaz attributes his claimed amnesia to either stress arising from the events of 27 August, or a drink administered to him at the meeting (he stated, “the last thing I remember was being given a glass of water to drink”).35 One expert concluded that the amnesia symptoms reported would be more consistent with a spiked drink than with a stress-related condition; however, other than possible sounds on the audio-recording that might be a drinks can being opened, there is no evidence for Mr Vaz being given a spiked drink (his claim in any case was that he had been given a glass of water not a canned drink). The Commissioner comments that:

despite his claim to have ingested a spiked drink, Mr Vaz can be heard participating in the conversation, and the activities taking place, throughout the whole of the recording. He is not incapacitated. The spiking of a drink would not explain Mr Vaz’s knowledge of the two men, which is evident throughout the recording. Mr Vaz has offered no explanation for that fore-knowledge, denying having knowingly met them on any other occasion.36

46.We accept the Commissioner’s conclusion that there is no evidence of Mr Vaz’s having consumed a spiked drink during the events of 27 August 2016. Mr Vaz’s statement that he cannot recollect what happened meant that in our oral evidence session we were not able to discuss the incident with him in any detail. However, his claimed amnesia does not prevent us from reaching our own conclusions as to the nature of those events and the plausibility of Mr Vaz’s overall evidence.

Alleged willingness to buy drugs

47.One aspect of the recorded conversation is particularly significant for this case. That is the references made by Mr Vaz and the two men to drugs. The Commissioner argues that “the audio-recording contains evidence of Mr Vaz’s apparent willingness to purchase controlled drugs for others to use”.37

48.The Commissioner states that:

On the audio-recording, the men can be heard discussing ‘poppers’, ‘weed’ and ‘coke’; references are to alkyl nitrates, marijuana and cocaine.

– In answer to a question about sourcing ‘weed’, he said he did not know where it could be obtained locally. Mr Vaz was the first to mention ‘coke’ that evening.

– When the men mention another man, whom they were thinking of bringing along, Mr Vaz raises the absence of any drugs (coke) as a potential problem, which would suggest that he knew that the man was a user of controlled drugs. Mr Vaz did not object when one of the men said that he would pay for someone to buy cocaine.

–In answer to a question about whether he had used ‘poppers’ in the past, Mr Vaz said he had, he did not use them any longer and he said they were ‘nice’ to give to other people. Mr Vaz did not say when in the past he had used alkyl nitrates.38

The men can also be heard discussing the purchase of cocaine for another man, not present, to use. The recording does not amount to evidence that Mr Vaz had purchased controlled substances for others to use on previous occasions.39 [ … ]

In addition, the audio-recording contains evidence of Mr Vaz’s apparent willingness to buy controlled drugs for others to use. While that may not amount to a criminal offence, he showed a disregard for the law and this is disrespectful to the House and to fellow Members, who collectively are responsible for making those laws.40

49.Our examination of the recording and transcript enables us to endorse the Commissioner’s conclusions as set out above. The following are relevant extracts from the transcript:

00:16:20–KV: “And we did bring him over [the ‘third man’] on the plane. I mean, we did pay for his … “ [ … ]

00:18:15–Second man: “I was thinking [ … ] that we’re going to bring a Luton guy.”

KV: “Tonight?” [ … ]

KV: “But there’s no coke here … There’s no coke.”

Second man: “What about any other drugs, maybe he would be happy with, I don’t know, something softer, like weed? That doesn’t - or does it have to be cocaine for him?” [ … ]

First man: But where are we going to get weed from ?

Second man: I don’t know. Do you …

KV: “No. Not in the middle of [ … ].” [ … ]

00:25:49–KV: “Get your Romanian guy? Where is he?

First man: “What, the Romanian?”

KV: “Yeah.”

First man: “No, he’s coming.”

KV: “But if you don’t have any coke - do you?”

First man: “Hmm?”

KV: “We don’t have any coke.”

First man: “He can arrange it.”

KV: [laughter] “I don’t want coke.”

First man: “But you said last time …”

KV: “Yes, that was ages ago. We have to give notice, get it brought up, all this stuff.”

Second man: “What notice do you have to give?”

KV: “Well I’ve got to ask somebody else.” [ … ]

First man: “I can ask the Romanian if he could bring it.”

KV: “Oh right. How much is it going to be? Oh, he knows someone to go and give it to him?”[ … ]

00:29:20–Second man [on phone]: “Look, we can get that the cocaine. Can you get cocaine. He can’t tonight.”

KV: “Ask him how much it is − next time.”

Second man [on phone]: “How much is it, coke? He can pay for it.”

[ … ]

00:48:30–KV: “A Romanian will come. [ … ] What did he say about buying some–”

First man: “Yeah but–”

KV: He can buy and I’ll give him the money.

First man: “If you can’t get the drugs then obviously he won’t want to come.”

KV: Mmm. [murmur of assent]41

50.Mr Vaz, in addition to claiming that the audio-recording and transcript are not to be relied on (a claim we have dismissed),42 has asserted that he has never taken drugs and he has set out to us medical reasons why he cannot do so.43 This latter claim is not, of course, a defence to the allegation that he expressed a willingness to procure drugs for the use of others.

51.We are satisfied from the evidence we have considered that Mr Vaz did on 27 August 2016 offer to procure and pay for illegal drugs for use by a third party.

The events of 27 August 2016: conclusions

52.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.

53.There is no reason to doubt the genuineness of the audio-recording supplied by Trinity Mirror plc to the previous Commissioner, in other words to doubt that it is what it purports to be, a covert recording made at Mr Vaz’s flat on the evening of 27 August 2016 by one of two men who visited the flat, and that one of the three voices audible throughout the recording is that of Mr Vaz. We have not been provided with any evidence of doctoring or manipulation of the recording. We further conclude that the transcript supplied by Trinity Mirror plc to the previous Commissioner has been produced to a reasonable standard, and that both the audio-recording and the transcript may be relied upon for the specific evidential purposes arising in our consideration of this case.

54.On the basis of the evidence supplied by the audio-recording and the transcript, we reach the following conclusions germane to the Commissioner’s findings:

We consider that the evidence supporting these conclusions is compelling.

Other arguments adduced by Mr Vaz in his defence

55.Mr Vaz has set out a number of other arguments in order to challenge the Commissioner’s findings that he had breached the Code of Conduct. In this section of our Report we consider in turn the following arguments by Mr Vaz:

Interpretation of Paragraph 16 of the 2015 Code

56.The Commissioner finds that Mr Vaz breached Paragraph 16 of the 2015 Code of Conduct, which states that “Members shall never undertake any action which would cause significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole, or of its Members generally.” Her grounds for so finding are that Mr Vaz expressed willingness to procure illegal drugs and so showed disregard for the law, and that his conduct during the inquiry was not co-operative and included “incredible” assertions which indicate disrespect for the standards system.44

57.We discuss the Commissioner’s conclusions later in this Report, but an initial issue to be considered is the argument by Mr Vaz that Paragraph 16 is inapplicable and should be disregarded because it is contingent upon a prior finding that one or more other Rules have been broken.

58.Mr Vaz states that “paragraph [16]45 should not be pursued where there are no other extant complaints under other paragraphs of the Code” and that “where the complaints about alleged conflicts of interest have not been upheld it must follow that the complaint under paragraph [16] should be rejected as well, as the two must stand or fall together”.46

59.This assertion, that as the allegations of conflict of interest have not been upheld, the allegation that Mr Vaz had undertaken actions “which would cause significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole” must also fall, makes a connection that is not present in the Code of Conduct. Paragraph [16] is completely separate from other, more specific, provisions of the Code and it is perfectly conceptually possible to have a finding that a Member has breached that paragraph but not any other paragraph of the Code. The Commissioner rightly sets a high bar for finding a breach of this rule, but we are in no doubt that Paragraph [16] is free-standing; there is nothing in the Code to indicate that it is contingent upon other rules.47 We reject the argument that Paragraph [16] should be invoked only if there has been a prior finding that another rule has been breached. The Commissioner has reached a conclusion that was open to her to reach, namely that Mr Vaz’s conduct towards her and her predecessor was a breach of the rule that “Members shall never undertake any action which would cause significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole, or of its Members generally”.

“Purely private and personal life”

60.As we have seen, the Commissioner has upheld the allegation that Mr Vaz acted in breach of paragraph 16 of the 2015 Code of Conduct, in two respects, by expressing willingness to purchase controlled drugs for others to use, thereby showing disregard for the law; and by showing disrespect towards the House’s system of standards by his conduct during her and her predecessor’s inquiry.

61.Mr Vaz’s evidence argues that “there can be no finding against Mr Vaz under paragraph [16] where neither his public nor his Parliamentary role is engaged and where the events are purely private and personal within paragraph 2 of the Code”.48 Paragraph 2 states that “The Code applies to Members in all aspects of their public life. It does not seek to regulate what Members do in their purely private and personal lives.”

62.Mr Vaz asserts that the events of 27 August 2016 were purely private and personal, and therefore there can have been no breach of the Code. There are two points that are relevant in relation to this. First, any allegation of disregard or disrespect for the law cannot be “purely private and personal”. As is spelled out in the Code of Conduct,49 Members are under a duty to uphold the laws made by Parliament. Second, Mr Vaz’s responses to an investigation by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards cannot be private and personal: the Commissioner is carrying out a public function conferred upon her by the Standing Orders of the House and Members are obliged to treat the process with respect and comply with it.

63.We reject the argument that Mr Vaz cannot have breached the Code of Conduct because his words and actions on 27 August 2016 were “purely private and personal”. The exclusion in the Code does not cover disregard for the law or failure to co-operate with an inquiry by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. However, we emphasise that in reaching this conclusion, we are not seeking to judge Mr Vaz’s private life or his personal morality. We note in this context that payment for sexual services, between consenting adults, is not a criminal offence.

Parliamentary role / public confidence and trust in Parliament

64.Mr Vaz also drew our attention to a comment by a previous Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. In 2006 the then Commissioner stated that:

In an earlier case I set out the key tests (and some subsidiary considerations) which I suggested should be applied in deciding whether this provision [paragraph 16] has been breached:

a) Was the action complained of taken in a parliamentary capacity, or in any other public capacity in relation to which his or her membership of the House is relevant to a material extent (i.e. not merely incidental)?

b) Was the conduct such as might reasonably be considered likely to damage public trust and confidence in the integrity of Parliament or to bring the House, or its Members generally, into disrepute?50

65.Mr Vaz argues that “Both conditions of this test must be satisfied in order to engage paragraph [16] of the Code”. With regard to the first condition, Mr Vaz’s evidence adds that “there was no question that the alleged activity complained of was not undertaken in a parliamentary capacity”, because Mr Vaz did not mention his role as a Member of Parliament, the events took place in his private home and at a private time, and the private and highly sensitive conversations did not relate to any of Mr Vaz’s duties as a public official.51

66.With regard to the second condition, Mr Vaz argues that Paragraph [16] of the Code “does not deal with conduct which may impact solely on the reputation of the Member concerned”, but rather “is aimed at conduct which adversely affects the House as a whole”.52 He argues that his conduct on 27 August 2016 did not “adversely affect the House as a whole”.

67.We note that the test set out in the Fourteenth Report of 2005–06 is the interpretation of the provision by the then Commissioner for Standards, in the circumstances and in the context prevailing at the time. It should not be treated as binding on subsequent Commissioners, and the present Commissioner is entitled to take a different view. She explains her reasoning at paragraphs 164 to 168 of her memorandum: her conclusion is based on a combination of Mr Vaz’s apparent disregard for the law and his disrespect for the standards system. That is, in our judgement, a conclusion she was entitled to reach.

68.To the extent that Mr Vaz’s behaviour showed disregard for the law, it is not an excuse that the events took place in private and that his public and parliamentary role was not mentioned. The Commissioner’s conclusions are otherwise founded on his conduct during the inquiry. The inquiry is part of his public role. The lack of a precedent does not invalidate this approach.

69.With regard to whether a Member’s behaviour has been of a kind which would cause significant damage to the reputation of the House as a whole, this is a matter which the Commissioner and the Committee are entitled to judge. Members’ compliance with the Commissioner’s investigations and the House’s standards system is of great importance to defending the reputation of Parliament. Finally, we note that bad behaviour by the Chair of a prominent select committee such as Home Affairs is intrinsically more likely to impact on the reputation of the House than equivalent behaviour by a Member who does not hold such a prestigious and high-profile post.

Entrapment

70.As we have seen,53 Mr Vaz’s evidence emphasises that the events of 27 August 2016 were a ‘sting’ operation conducted on behalf of a national newspaper, and asserts that “there can be no doubt that Mr Vaz was the victim of subterfuge and entrapment”.54 Mr Vaz draws attention to the fact that the Standards and Privileges Committee in 2010 deplored the use of ‘stings’ in certain circumstances.55 He quotes the relevant paragraph from their report:

We understand that detecting or exposing serious impropriety is considered by the PCC [Press Complaints Commission] to provide a public interest justification both for clandestine recording and for subterfuge. We accept that some breaches of the Code of Conduct of the House of Commons are likely to amount to serious impropriety. But we consider that where subterfuge fosters rather than exposes such impropriety it can cross the line into entrapment, and when that is so the role of those setting the trap may be open to question.56

71.We note that our predecessor Committee concluded in 2010 that evidence uncovered by sting operations may be admissible in conduct investigations. There is no prohibition on using material arrived at by such means. The Committee’s condemnation was directed at situations “where subterfuge fosters rather than exposes [ … ] impropriety”. Mr Vaz argues that what happened on 27 August 2016 “was plainly an exercise in entrapment which, to use the previous language of the Committee, ‘fosters’ events rather than exposes them”.57

72.We reject Mr Vaz’s claim that the ‘sting’ operation in this case “fostered” misconduct rather than exposing it. The contents of the covert audio-recording contain nothing to suggest that Mr Vaz was being tricked or inveigled into doing anything he was reluctant to do, and as we have seen they strongly suggest that he had engaged in similar activities on previous occasions.

Mr Vaz’s conduct during the inquiry

73.The Commissioner concluded that Mr Vaz damaged the reputation of the House, and thus breached Paragraph 16 of the 2015 Code, by his conduct during her, and her predecessor’s, inquiry. She stated that:

Mr Vaz’s conduct has [ … ] been disrespectful of the House’s system of standards. He has not “co-operated at all stages” with the investigation process. He has failed, repeatedly, to answer direct questions; he has given incomplete answers and his account has, in parts, been incredible. I do not believe he has given me or my predecessor a full and accurate account of the relevant events.58

74.Mr Vaz dissents from this conclusion. He argues that he “has co-operated at all stages of this process”. His evidence states that “none of the delay in the process could be attributed to Mr Vaz who has co-operated fully”.59 He has submitted a table of key dates which, he maintains, demonstrates his co-operation and bears out his assertion that the various delays in the investigation were imposed on him rather than sought by him.60 He states that:

In line with his determination to assist the Commissioner and co-operate with the process, Mr Vaz felt it necessary to provide the Commissioner with as much information as possible that would assist her. The Committee will no doubt appreciate that the gravity of the allegations levelled against Mr Vaz at the time had left him with little choice but to mount a vigorous and robust defence of his conduct.61

75.The Commissioner’s specific charges against Mr Vaz are as follows:

Mr Vaz’s responses to the inquiry have been to obfuscate and delay. His responses have sometimes been inaccurate (for example, the name of the ‘professor’ treating Mr Vaz; the timing of his hospital visit and how he travelled to hospital); incomplete (for example, the contact details of the person who offered to corroborate Mr Vaz’s account of how he first met the two men); and irrelevant (for example, photographs of construction work on another property; evidence submitted about the driving offences of one of the men, a letter from a woman who Mr Vaz says is the mother of the other man).62

76.The Commissioner further states that “there are many unexplained inconsistences in the evidence Mr Vaz has given during this inquiry”. In particular, as previously set out, she regards his account of the events of 27 August 2016 as “incredible”. She concludes that “although superficially compliant, Mr Vaz’s behaviour during this inquiry suggests to me that he has little or no respect for the complaints system”.63

77.We accept the Commissioner’s view of Mr Vaz’s conduct during her inquiry and that by her predecessor, on three grounds:

a)The specific evidence the Commissioner provides of Mr Vaz being evasive or unhelpful during the inquiry is convincing.

b)Mr Vaz’s elaborate timeline purporting to show that none of the delays to the inquiry are his fault misses the point, which is that if he had given a candid and co-operative account of the incident on 27 August 2016 from the outset, rather than an unbelievable one, the inquiry could have been resolved long ago. As it is, considerable staff resources in the Commissioner’s office have been devoted to this which could have been directed to other tasks.

c)Much of the welter of documentation and procedural challenges which has emanated from Mr Vaz has been designed, in our opinion, to “throw dust in the eyes” of the Commissioner and the Committee. As we mentioned at the start of our Report, the core issues in this inquiry are relatively simple; but Mr Vaz has done his best to complicate, obfuscate and confuse the inquiry through arguments of little merit and documentation of dubious relevance.

Comments on the Commissioner’s findings

78.We set out below the Commissioner’s findings in this case, and add our comments beneath each of them.

79.The Commissioner upheld the allegation that Mr Vaz acted in breach of paragraph 16 of the 2015 House of Commons’ Code of Conduct, by expressing willingness to purchase controlled drugs 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. For the reasons set out earlier in this Report, we agree with this finding.

80.One of the original allegations against Mr Vaz was that he had breached Paragraph 10 of the 2015 Code of Conduct, which stated that ““Members shall base their conduct on a consideration of the public interest, avoid conflict between personal interest and the public interest and resolve any conflict between the two, at once, and in favour of the public interest.”

81.It was claimed that there was a conflict of interest between Mr Vaz’s role as the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC), which had recently conducted inquiries into prostitution and psychoactive drugs, and his apparent relationships with sex workers and his offer to pay for drugs. Mr Vaz, it was argued, should have recused himself from both inquiries because of this conflict of interest.64

82.The Commissioner did not uphold the allegation that Mr Vaz should have recused himself from the work of the Home Affairs Committee on its Report on Psychoactive drugs. Although she found that the audio-recording made on 27 August 2016 “contains evidence of Mr Vaz’s apparent willingness to purchase controlled drugs for others to use”, however “the evidence I have seen does not demonstrate that Mr Vaz had any involvement in the use of drugs relevant to the Committee’s inquiry regarding psychoactive substances at a time relevant to the Committee’s work on that inquiry”. The Committee’s report on psychoactive substances was published in October 2015 and the government reply was published in January 2016, more than six months before the events of 27 August 2016. The Committee’s formal minutes contain no references to further work on this inquiry between January and August 2016, and it is reasonable to regard it as having concluded. We agree with the Commissioner’s finding.

83.The Commissioner did not uphold the allegation that Mr Vaz should have recused himself from the work of the Home Affairs Committee in its inquiry into prostitution.

84.We have considered this matter in some detail. The Commissioner took the view that:

The evidence that I have seen and heard leads me to conclude that it is more likely than not that Mr Vaz has engaged in paid sexual activity. The evidence does not show that he did so while the Committee was conducting its inquiry into prostitution. I cannot, therefore, say with any certainty that Mr Vaz should have recused himself from any Committee discussions about criminalisation of prostitution.65

85.The Commissioner based this conclusion on the evidence Mr Vaz submitted, in the form of the formal minutes of the Home Affairs Select Committee for 15 June 2016, which “show[ed] that work on the HASC Inquiry into Prostitution had ended on that date”.66

86.It is, however, arguable that that inquiry should not be regarded as having been concluded in June 2016. There are two grounds for such an argument:

a)Select committee inquiries culminate in the publication of a report, but a necessary follow-up to this is publication of the Government response, which is required to appear within two months. In this case there was a delay, and the response was published in December 2016. When a Government response turns out to be unsatisfactory, select committees have sometimes re-opened an inquiry, for instance by correspondence with Ministers or by seeking further oral evidence from them.

b)The HASC report on prostitution in June 2016 actually describes itself as an “interim” report. In its introduction, the Committee states:

This is the first inquiry that the Home Affairs Committee has ever held into prostitution. It was originally intended to be a short inquiry. However, the evidence made clear to us that the views on the legal approach to prostitution are strongly held and highly polarised. The different viewpoints often arise from moral values and people’s reactions are frequently emotive. The challenge of making a rational assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of the range of models is compounded by the lack of robust evidence, which arises at least in part from the covert nature of prostitution and the understandable unwillingness of those involved to identify themselves as sellers or buyers of sex. It should also be borne in mind that sex work is often linked to criminality, including trafficking, coercion, and illegal drugs.

This report therefore represents our interim views on the different legislative approaches in other countries, the changes we believe need to be made now in England and Wales, and the options for legislative change which need further, closer and more thorough examination. We hope that this report will stimulate public debate about the important issues which prostitution raises. We intend to follow this interim report with a final report later in the Session.67 [Our italics.]

87.There are other references in the report to the Committee’s intention to produce a “final report” later.68 In two places the report refers to “our continuing inquiry”.69 In the event, no further report appeared, but the Government response in December was clearly drafted on the assumption that it would do, stating that:

We appreciate the work of the Committee and welcome the interim report looking at this important issue. [ … ] We will await the Committee’s full report before considering the alternative approaches to managing prostitution and sex work. The Committee’s specific interim conclusions and recommendations are addressed in turn below.70 [Our italics.]

88.On 27 August 2016, Mr Vaz cannot have known the contents of the Government response to HASC’s prostitution report, and therefore cannot have been sure that the inquiry was definitively over; and in addition the Committee itself had stated that its report was merely interim, that more work on prostitution would be carried out and that there would be a further report later in the Session (implying that the further work would be carried out within the next 12 months at the latest). As we have seen, as late as December 2016 the Government was under the impression that the committee’s work on prostitution was continuing and that its inquiry was therefore still ‘live’.

89.When Mr Vaz gave oral evidence, we put to him the reasons for thinking that, contrary to his assertion to the Commissioner, HASC’s prostitution inquiry was still live on 27 August 2016. Mr Vaz’s defence to this charge was to state that whatever HASC may have said in public, in private it had decided to terminate the inquiry–and indeed the Committee’s formal minutes show that no further evidence was taken and no further report appeared.

90.Mr Vaz made a number of points about the status of the inquiry:

The reason we said the word “interim” was because there was huge demand for us to continue our work, and the only way we could stop it happening was to publish a report, but that did not change the law at all. There were no proceedings that were ongoing.71

[ … ] we had taken a decision that we were not going to look at this subject again in the Parliament [ … ].72

The inquiry was concluded; everyone knows that the inquiry was concluded. That is the first issue. The Committee knew it was concluded. Parliament knew it was concluded, the public knew it was concluded and the Commissioner said it was concluded.73 [ … ]

The use of the word “interim” was to satisfy groups that we would look at it again in the future. It was a long, long way off. It would not have happened under my chairmanship in any event.74

91.It is difficult to reconcile these responses by Mr Vaz with the fact that the Committee’s report published in June 2016 not only described itself as “interim” but twice referred to “our continuing inquiry”, and gave a specific undertaking to produce a final report within the parliamentary session. If the Committee subsequently, between June and August 2016, took a decision to abort this inquiry, it is not recorded in its formal minutes, nor was it communicated to the Government, which as late as December 2016 was still expecting a final report to follow from HASC. In terms of public perception, then, the inquiry can be regarded as having been “live” on 27 August 2016. It was certainly not the case, as Mr Vaz claims, that “ everyone knows that the inquiry was concluded [ … ] the public knew it was concluded”.75

92.It does not follow, however, that Mr Vaz was in breach of the rules of the House in this matter. The allegation was that he had breached Paragraph 10 of the 2015 Code by not recusing himself from HASC’s prostitution inquiry because he had engaged in paid-for sex. We agree with the Commissioner that on the balance of probabilities it is likely that Mr Vaz engaged in paid-for sex on more than one occasion before 27 August 2016, but the exact dates for these activities cannot be known, and therefore it cannot be demonstrated that they took place during HASC’s inquiry. As for the event on 27 August 2016, the newspaper article appeared a matter of days later, before any scheduled meeting of HASC, and Mr Vaz shortly afterwards resigned as Chair of HASC. It is difficult to see how in the time available he could have recused himself from the Committee’s inquiry, even if it is accepted that the inquiry was after all still ‘live’. For this reason, though we regret that Mr Vaz was less than completely candid in his responses to us on this subject, we agree with the Commissioner’s decision not to uphold the allegation of a breach of Paragraph 10 of the Code.

93.Mr Vaz’s written evidence states that:

The Commissioner’s decision to reject all the allegations of conflict of interest arising from Mr Vaz’s chairmanship of HASC rendered, with the benefit of hindsight, his resignation unnecessary. However he believes he did the right thing in resigning immediately.76

94.We do not agree with Mr Vaz’s claim that, with hindsight, his resignation as the Chair of HASC was “unnecessary”. Because of his breach of the rules, and in view of the need to maintain public confidence in the integrity of the select committee system, we believe that it was indeed necessary that he should have resigned.

Recommended sanction

95.In accordance with our usual practice, in assessing the seriousness of, and the appropriate penalty for, Mr Vaz’s breach of the rules, we have taken into account what we consider to be mitigating and aggravating factors.

Mitigating factors

96.We assess the following to be a mitigating factor:

Aggravating factors

97.We assess the following to be aggravating factors:

Sanction

98.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.

99.This is a very serious breach of the Code. We recommend that the House should suspend Mr Vaz from its service for six months.

100.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.

101.We further recommend that if Mr Vaz were to cease to be a Member of the House for whatever reason, he should not be eligible to be granted a former Member’s pass.


1 Referred to in footnote citations as “PCS memorandum”.

2 At paras 10, 12 and 13

3 The factual material in this and the following paragraph is taken from the PCS’s memorandum, at paras 9 and 10.

4 When we refer to “the Commissioner” in this Report we are referring to the current Commissioner, Kathryn Stone. We refer to Kathryn Hudson as “the previous Commissioner” or “the then Commissioner”.

5 PCS memorandum, para 32

6 At paras 13–32 and 33–88 respectively.

7 PCS memorandum, Summary, conclusions (1) to (3)

8 PCS memorandum, para 34

9 Sunday Mirror, 4 September 2016, article entitled “Married MP Keith Vaz tells prostitutes in his flat: ‘Bring poppers’ ... ‘We need to get this party started’”

10 Ibid.

11 PCS memorandum, para 44

12 PCS memorandum, para 112

13 PCS memorandum, Appendices 3 and 4. The full material supplied by Dr Holmes to Mr Vaz has been submitted to the Committee and is published on its website as WE 8.

14 PCS memorandum, para 114

15 PCS memorandum, para 115; see also para 150.

16 Keith Vaz written evidence (submitted on 30 August 2019), paras 83, 85

17 Oral evidence, Q1

18 PCS memorandum, Appendix 4, section 4.1

19 PCS memorandum, Appendix 4, section 4.2

20 PCS memorandum, Appendix 4, section 4.4

21 PCS memorandum, Appendix 4, section 4.3 (i)

22 WE 7

23 PCS memorandum, Summary, pp 3–4; see also para 106

24 PCS memorandum, para 106; see also paras 144–45

25 PCS memorandum, paras 148–49

26 PCS memorandum, paras 15, 61

27 WE 5 , paras 43–56

28 WE 5 , para 52

29 WE 5 , paras 53–56

30 Keith Vaz written evidence (submitted on 30 August 2019), para 17.4

31 Evidence not reported.

32 WE 14

33 PCS memorandum, paras 128, 173

34 PCS memorandum, paras 121–29 (the quotation is from para 129), para 173

35 WE 2 , transcript of meeting with Mr Vaz on 27 April 2017

36 PCS memorandum, para 147

37 PCS memorandum, Summary, conclusion (3)

38 PCS memorandum, para 152

39 PCS memorandum, para 153

40 PCS memorandum, para 166

41 Evidence not reported

42 See para 30 above.

43 WE 5, para 71

44 PCS memorandum, Summary, conclusion (3)

45 Mr Vaz’s evidence refers to Paragraph 17; that is the current numbering of the relevant paragraph, but in August 2016 it was paragraph 16, and is therefore so referred to in this Report.

46 WE 5 , paras 7–8

47 See PCS memorandum, para 170.

48 WE 5 , para 8

49 Code of Conduct 2015, para 5

50 Committee on Standards and Privileges, Fourteenth Report of Session 2005–06, Conduct of Mr Desmond Turner (HC 1578), PCS memorandum, para 34

51 WE 5 , para 17

52 WE 5 , para 19

53 In para 36 above.

54 WE 5 , paras 53–56

55 WE 5 , para 55

56 Committee on Standards and Privileges, Ninth Report of Session 2010–11, Sir John Butterfill, Mr Stephen Byers, Ms Patricia Hewitt, Mr Geoff Hoon, Mr Richard Caborn and Mr Adam Ingram (HC 654-I), para 9

57 WE 5 , para 54

58 PCS memorandum, Summary, conclusion (3)

59 WE 5 , paras 60–62

60 WE 14

61 WE 5 , para 62

62 PCS memorandum, Summary, p 4

63 PCS memorandum, paras 165, 167

64 The Guide to the Rules, ch 2, para 7, states that “a Member who has a personal interest which may reflect upon the work of the [Select] Committee or its report should stand aside from the Committee proceedings relating to it”; see also PCS memorandum, para 94.

65 PCS memorandum, Summary, p 5

66 PCS memorandum, para 61

67 Home Affairs Committee, Third Report of Session 2016–17, Prostitution (HC 26), published 1 July 2016, paras 10–11

68 E.g., at paras 59 and 102

69 In paras 80 and 101

70 Government Response to the Third Report from the Home Affairs Select Committee Session 2016–17 HC 26: Prostitution (Cm 9361), published 2 December 2016, Introduction, pp 1–2

71 Q32

72 Q34

73 Q37

74 Q40

75 Q37

76 WE 5 , para 100

77 Mr Vaz had become Chair of the Home Affairs Committee on 26 July 2007. The term limits for a select committee chair as at 2016 were fixed by Standing Order No. 122A, which provided that “unless the House otherwise order, no select committee may have as its chair any Member who has served as chair of that committee for the two previous Parliaments or a continuous period of eight years, whichever is the greater period”. The Standing Order was interpreted to mean that a Member who took a committee chair part way through a Parliament, in succession to a departing chair, did not have service in that Parliament reckoned as part of the two terms provision: that is to say, “two Parliaments” was been taken to mean service throughout two Parliaments. See Procedure Committee, Fourth Report of Session 2017–19, Term limits for select committee chairs in the 2017 Parliament (HC 816), paras 2 and 6.

78 Committee on Standards and Privileges, Fifth Report of Session 2001–02, Complaints against Mr Keith Vaz (HC 605-I), para 69

79 Ibid., para 15




Published: 28 October 2019