Vaz Investigation “Suspended For Medical Reasons”

A few weeks ago Guido asked what had happened to the Standards Commissioner’s investigation into Keith Vaz, which still hasn’t reported back after nearly a year and a half. Today the ongoing investigations list has been updated to reveal that the Vaz inquiry has been “suspended for medical reasons”. It’s certainly true that Vaz has gone missing in recent weeks – he didn’t vote between 18 October and 13 December and he’s only spoken in the Commons once in the last month. He did however manage a trip to the Middle East earlier this month and to vote on the EU withdrawal bill last week. Get well soon…

UPDATE: Tory MP Andrew Bridgen told Guido:

“It’s deeply disappointing but not surprising. If Vaz is not fit to be held to the standards expected of a parliamentarian then he’s not fit enough to be a parliamentarian and we should be expecting a by-election.”

UPDATE II: Guido is reminded that slippery Vaz also went ill around the time of 2001 election when previous serious allegations against him were made. He went to ground for several weeks and so avoided Michael Crick. It’s hard to doorstep a sick man…

Where Are the Dirty Dozen’s Promised Reports, Investigations and Decisions?

The Brexit noise is helpfully letting both the government and the Labour Party sit on the promised reports, investigations and decisions which followed the recent string of Westminster scandals. Here’s Guido’s run-down of the unfinished business from the past few weeks (and earlier)…

Jared O’Mara: Jared hasn’t been seen in Westminster since the scandal around him erupted in October and he hasn’t voted in the months since. He – or more likely, his whip – is submitting a number of very general written questions and signing the odd EDM to give the impression things are still ticking over. Jared is still under investigation after losing the Labour whip. He’s been off for weeks…

Keith Vaz: An investigation into Vaz by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner is somehow still ongoing after a complaint was made about his rent boys and coke binge in September 2016 (Kathryn Hudson better hurry-up, she’s due to step-down by the end of this year). Vaz hasn’t voted since 18 October, though he did speak in the House last week. He is currently rumoured to be on a trip to the Middle East…

Damian Green: Westminster was on tenterhooks awaiting the release of Sue Gray’s report last week, but it didn’t materialise. It was rumoured to be on the agenda again yesterday but failed to appear. Putting off the inevitable seems to be distracting Damian from his job liaising with the DUP…

Mark Garnier: Remains under Cabinet Office investigation after the Mail on Sunday reported allegations in October that he sent an aide to buy sex toys and called her “sugar tits“. What on earth are they doing, interrogating the sex shop owner?

Kelvin Hopkins: Former Shadow Culture Secretary Kelvin Hopkins lost the Labour whip in November. The party is still investigating a complaint that Hopkins sent inappropriate text messages and made inappropriate physical contact at a student event in 2014. He is voting in line with Labour but hasn’t spoken since 25 October. No update from Labour…

Ivan LewisLabour is still investigating a complaint against Lewis, who denied allegations of sexual harassment after a woman said he touched her leg and invited her to his house when she was 19. He hasn’t voted since 31 October or spoken in the chamber since 25 October. No update…

Dan Poulter: MPs say they haven’t seen Dr Dan around Westminster since the Sunday Times reported allegations against him on 5 November. His office told the BBC he’s “on sick leave”. He last voted on 31 October and hasn’t spoken in the chamber since 11 July. The new Conservative Party disciplinary committee is yet to report its findings… 

Charlie Elphicke: Elphicke’s friends say is still unaware of what allegations have been made against him. He was told in November that allegations had been passed to the police, but there has been no news of any action. In the meantime, Elphicke is still without the whip. The chairman of his association recently backed him…

Stephen CrabbThe former Welsh Secretary is still under investigation by the Conservative Party for allegedly sexting a 19-year-old who applied for a job in his office in 2013. No update…

Chris Pincher: He resigned as a government whip after allegations in the Mail on Sunday that he had un-tucked the shirt of a male Tory. Pincher referred himself to the police. No news as to the outcome…

Daniel KawczynskiReferred to the Tories new disciplinary committee in November following allegations that he pressured a young researcher to go on a date with a businessman ‘older than her father’. Nothing heard yet…

Jack LoprestiA former staff member complained about Lopresti’s behaviour and a probe was launched last week. The complaint came via the Tories’ new code of conduct hotline…

What do Sue Gray, Kathryn Hudson and the Tory and Labour party internal inquiries get up to all day?

Vaz Off International Trade Select Committee

Yesterday’s order paper showed Keith Vaz being discharged from his position on the International Trade select committee, just three months after he joined. Vaz is being replaced by Tom Watson’s old flame Stephanie Peacock. Sources say Vaz hasn’t been seen much around the House recently, and he hasn’t voted since 18 October. A few months back Momentum were coming for his place on the NEC; surely he isn’t now being lined up for a frontbench job? Wonder what he’ll do with his newly free time…

Vaz Investigation Still Ongoing A Year Later

What with all the talk of scandal in Westminster, the mind inevitably wanders to… Keith Vaz. It’s now more than 12 months since an official complaint about Vaz’s conduct was first made to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (in September 2016). The Commissioner was asked to investigate whether Vaz broke the Code of Conduct for MPs when he was caught offering to pay for drugs for gay prostitutes. Vaz was Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee which handles prostitution and drugs legislation…

The Standards Commissioner said yesterday:

“The Commissioner doesn’t give updates and it is not possible to give an expected date for completion.”

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, who submitted the complaint, said:

“I’m rapidly losing confidence in the parliamentary standards procedures. It often said that justice delayed is justice denied.”

Let’s hope all these new probes and inquiries and probes don’t take so long…

Is Statue Keith? ‘Vaz and Rent Boy’ Sculpture Unveiled

Guido likes to keep his cultured readers abreast of the arts: you may have missed this new sculpture, entitled “Keith Vaz MP and his Rent Boy”. The work, by London-based artist Wilfred Wood, went on display at Saturday’s Queer Artists Now exhibition at the Archive Gallery in East London’s De Beauvoir. The baseball-capped “rent boy” places a languid hand on Vaz’s shoulder. A boxer-shorted Vaz stares into the distance. It would work nicely for Parliament Square?

Vaz Seeking “Grope” Assistant

A post has appeared on the w4mp website advertising a vacancy in Keith Vaz’s office. Apparently he needs someone to help him in his role as “Chairman of the APPG Grope on Yemen”. Just an unfortunate typo, Guido is sure…

Vaz Slips Out in Rolls Royce

An amazed co-conspirator spotted Keith Vaz leaving parliament in a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce. Could the commissions from his washing machine sales be more lucrative than we thought? Of course if it was a benefit in kind from a generous benefactor he will remember to declare it in the register of interests…

Vaz’s Pants Councillor Resigns

A councillor close to Keith Vaz who had his taxi licence withdrawn amid allegations he “sat outside a swimming pool in his pants” has resigned. Gurpal Atwal is alleged to have boasted he had Vaz “in his right pocket” and has been pictured campaigning with him. Atwal denied the charges against him but Magistrates found he is not a fit and proper person to hold a taxi licence and also charged him £1,250 in costs. Now he has resigned as a councillor…

A Labour Party spokesman said:

“The Labour Party appreciates Gurpal Atwal’s valuable contribution to the work of Oadby & Wigston Council during his time of service. There will be a by-election in due course which the Labour Party intends to contest with a new candidate.”

Guido can reveal that a formal complaint was made against Atwal in April of this year, but Leicester City Council took no action. Conservative Councillor Ross Grant submitted a dossier to the authorities, but a judgement on Atwal was not issued until June. The Council found there was no grounds for action. North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen said:

“It is right that Atwal has resigned, but serious questions remain about why he wasn’t stopped earlier when the City Council received evidence that he was unfit. This will cause more concern about child safeguarding in Leicester, which very unfortunately is not a city that can be proud of its record of protecting children.”

Another member of the Vaz chumocracy falls…

Vaz-Pants Councillor Suspended from Vulnerable Kids Contract

A scandal-hit taxi-driver and Labour councillor who is said to have boasted about having “Keith Vaz in my right pocket” has been suspended from working on a public sector contract to transport vulnerable children. Gurpal Atwal sits on Oadby and Wigston Borough Council, close to Vaz’s Leicester East seat. Last week a court heard that Atwal – who has been pictured campaigning with Vaz – sat outside a swimming pool “in his pants” and had allegedly been verbally abusive to passengers (Atwal denied the claims). Magistrates ruled Atwal was not a fit and proper person to hold a taxi licence and also charged him £1,250 in costs. A council spokesman said this weekend:

“We have a framework contract with ASA Transport Service Ltd, to provide transport for vulnerable adults and children in Leicester. Mr Atwal is employed as a driver with this firm, but as a result of this week’s court decision, we have instructed ASA that Mr Atwal is no longer to be used for any of our contracted work.”

North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen said:

“Things look murkier and murkier with regard to child safeguarding in Leicester. This has all the hallmarks of another Labour cover-up putting vulnerable children at risk.”

Will Vaz publicly distance himself from Atwal?

“Vaz In My Right Pocket” Councillor “Sat in His Pants Outside a Swimming Pool”

A Labour councillor who is said to have boasted he had Keith Vaz “in his right pocket” was yesterday accused of “sitting outside a swimming pool in his pants” during a court hearing over his taxi licence. Cllr Gurpal Atwal sits on Oadby and Wigston Borough Council, close to Vaz’s Leicester East seat, and has worked as a cab driver in the city for two decades. When his own Council denied him a taxi licence earlier this year he appealed, and at a hearing before magistrates in Loughborough yesterday, Licensing Enforcement Officer Tracey Aldwinckle gave details of his alleged conduct:

“I was told your client is using unlicensed drivers on school runs and then he sat in his pants outside a swimming pool because he believes that’s acceptable.”

The court heard a slew of other allegations including of racism and that Atwal swore at a man; Atwal’s solicitor said there was “no indication” from the public of any such behaviour. A witness claimed in a statement that Atwal once boasted of having “Keith Vaz in my right pocket”… 

Magistrates decided to uphold an earlier decision by the licensing authorities that Atwal is not a fit and proper person to hold a taxi licence and also charged him £1,250 in costs. Atwal will however be able to continue working as a cab driver under a previous licence which covers him until 2018. Atwal did not give a comment when approached by reporters. Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicstershire, said of the case:

“It’s a real insight into Labour politics in Leicester, and shows that Atwal’s powerful friends in the city have got serious questions to answer.”

Unlicensed Taxi for Keith Vaz…

Washing Machine Protest Outside Vaz’s Office

Spotted outside Jim the washing machine salesman’s office in Leicester this afternoon. “No more spin…”

Neighbouring Tory MP Andrew Bridgen comments: “Keith has been very quiet so far during this election, but then he has a lot to be quiet about”. Jim was nowhere to be seen during the protest today either. His constituents are clearly not impressed…

Vaz Complains “MSM” Invent Stories

Keith Vaz isn’t so chatty about the shenanigans of his alter ego Jim the washing machine salesman these days. Last night however he gave his views on the “mainstream media” that revealed his double life at a drinks bash held by Jeremy Corbyn. According to journalist Marcus Dysch who was present, Vaz told the room the “MSM” – he used the acronym – invent what they write and that to counter the press “we must tell people the truth”. The only one inventing stories is Jim with his promise to get you a great deal on a washer dryer…

Rich’s Monday Morning View

Vaz Sets Carter Ruck on Andrew Pierce

Keith Vaz is very unhappy with the Daily Mail’s Andrew Pierce over an article published last week in which Pierce reported Vaz had paid rent boys for their services. Vaz has instructed £500-an-hour Carter Ruck to insist he has “never had ‘sex’ with any ‘rent boys'”.

We have been contacted by Carter-Ruck on behalf of Keith Vaz in connection with an article in the Daily Mail dated 8 February 2017, pages 6 and 7, headed “How the king of the freebies splashes your cash” and on Mail Online headed “Chauffeur-driven cars, taxpayer-funded suits and hospitality at the tennis and Arsenal matches: How the king of freebies John Bercow splashes your cash”

Carter-Ruck say their client has never ‘paid rent boys for sex’ and never had ‘sex’ with any ‘rent boys’. They also say there was never a Police investigation in relation to this.

Vaz told the rent boys in the Sunday Mirror sting “Try and pick up some poppers” and asked “How will this work, do you want me to f*** him first or all together”. Reportedly talking about an encounter with another escort, Vaz said “He was OK. He forgot the condom though. I had to f*** him without a condom”. Yet “Carter-Ruck say their client has never ‘paid rent boys for sex’ and never had ‘sex’ with any ‘rent boys'”. What about Jim the washing machine salesman?

Vaz “No Charges” Letter

Law makers can apparently be law breakers…

Slippery Vaz Gets Off Again

The police have dropped their investigation into Keith Vaz after he was caught on camera offering to buy cocaine for rent boys. This particular police investigation was always at the mild end of Vaz’s sleazy private life…

Vaz and Bercow Get the Party Started

Surreal moment in the Commons as Vaz congratulates Bercow on his and Sally’s anniversary, before asking if had a “party” last night. Remember, the Speaker and Vaz are close

Vaz Dodges National Crime Agency Meeting

vaz-dodging-nca

Since Keith Vaz’s appointment to the Criminal Finance Bill committee this week it has sat twice, on Tuesday and today. For some reason – to the great disappointment of hacks – Vaz has absented himself from both sessions. Guido can give readers some background as to why that might be…

Guido understands Labour whips have been told that not only is Vaz now under investigation by Scotland Yard, they have been made aware that four files regarding Vaz have been passed to the National Crime Agency. Given that the Bill committee has been taking evidence from the National Crime Agency, it would clearly be completely inappropriate for Vaz to attend this committee. If Vaz had attended he would either have to recuse himself or declare his interest. Rather than face the embarrassment, slippery Vaz has unofficially recused himself by not showing up…

Vaz to Scrutinise Unexplained Wealth Laws

vaz

Today’s Sun reports Keith Vaz has been appointed a member of the Criminal Finance Bill committee despite being under active police investigation. As Guido reported last month, Vaz’s role will include helping to scrutinise new plans to strengthen so-called Unexplained Wealth Orders, anti-corruption laws where assets can be seized if owners are unable to explain how they were funded. This is something of personal significance to Vaz, who in 2012 was subject to another police investigation which found up to £500,000 of funds believed to have been “of a suspicious nature” were paid into current and savings accounts in his name or linked to him:

“There are numerous unexplained payments into the accounts and large transfers between accounts that require further investigation… the level of funds received … are of a suspicious nature”

Vaz did not declare where the money came from. At one point detectives claimed £28,959 in cash was paid into an HSBC account held by Vaz, with no explanation. This is all without mentioning the mystery behind Vaz’s £4 million global property empire, which he has also never explained how he has been able to afford. Vaz is now scrutinising laws on unexplained wealth…

BBC Reports Keith Vaz Booed in Leicester

Usually the attention-grabbing Keith Vaz is cheered by constituents when he takes to the stage at the annual Diwali light switch-on in Leicester. This year he skulked at the back and was booed by the home crowd. Vaz is clinging to his position on the Justice select committee despite potentially breaking a law he helped draft.[…] Read the rest

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