British Labour MP Keith Vaz steps down as Home Affairs Select Committee chairman after being accused of paying for male prostitutes and drugs, which was exposed in a Sunday newspaper's sting operation.
The UK tabloid paper, the Sunday Mirror, exposed pictures of Vaz, a married man of two children, with a man said to be an escort.
The paper reported that the MP met two eastern European male sex workers and discussed using drugs last week in a flat he owns in north London.
Vaz is one of the most influential MPs in the UK’s House of Commons and is currently overseeing a review into Britain’s prostitution laws.
In a statement to the Mail on Sunday, Vaz said that he is "genuinely sorry for the hurt and distress that has been caused by my actions in particular to my wife and children. I will be informing the committee on Tuesday of my intention to stand aside from chairing the committee with immediate effect.”
"It is deeply disturbing that a national newspaper should have paid individuals to have acted in this way,” he added.
Vaz also said he would take legal action, noting, "I have referred these allegations to my solicitor Mark Stephens, of Howard Kennedy, who will consider them carefully and advise me on what is published.”
The Sunday Mirror leaked a series of text messages allegedly between Vaz and a male escort, where drug use and sex arrangements were discussed.
Vaz has been a Labour MP for Leicester East since 1987.
According to the UK Parliament website, Select Committees check and report on areas ranging from the work of government departments to economic affairs. The results of these inquiries are public and many require a response from the government.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the allegations as a "private matter" and, asserting that he will let the committee decide Vaz’s future.