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Britain’s Longest serving Indian-Origin Lawmaker Keith Vaz Steps Down over Sex Scandal

The 59-year-old Goan-origin MP apologised to his wife, children and friends for his act

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Keith Vaz. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
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Sept 4, 2016: It comes as a shock to many, when one goes through the footage that shows MP Keith Vaz speaking to the men (believed to be Poles) and he reportedly boasted about having unprotected sex.

Labour MP from Leicester since 1987, Keith Vaz, who is a married father of two was keen to keep his real identity a secret. When he allegedly met two male prostitutes, he claimed that he was a washing machine salesman called Jim, mentioned the PTI report.

Mr Vaz’s meeting with two male escorts included a discussion about using the party drug known as “Poppers”. The 59-year-old Goan-origin MP apologised to his wife, children and friends for his act.

“I am 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 sessions of the Committee with immediate effect,” he said in a statement reported by ‘Sky News’.

He will be stepping aside from the chair of the influential House of Commons Home Affairs Committee, which he has headed for the past 10 years. He, speaking to his lawyer and other members of the committee explains that he has not resigned completely, but temporarily.

The committee is currently examining prostitution in the UK and had issued a report recently saying that soliciting by sex workers to be decriminalised, mentioned PTI report.

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He later issued another statement, which added: “At this time I do not want there to be any distraction from the important work the Home Affairs Select Committee undertakes so well.

A leading news portal quoted, “Select Committees do vital work in holding the government and others to account. We are due to publish two Reports, one into Anti-Semitism and the other into FGM in the next few days, in addition, we have a number of key witnesses.

“I will, of course, inform Committee members first of my plans when we meet on Tuesday.

“My decision has been based entirely on what is in the best interests of the Committee which I have had the privilege of Chairing for the last 9 years.”

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Fellow Home Affairs committee member Naz Shah told Sky News she had spoken to Mr Vaz and “he has done the right thing” by standing aside as chair.

A Labour Party spokesman said: “Keith Vaz has issued a statement on this matter:

“As with all departmental select committees, Keith was elected to the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee by the House of Commons, and his is position is a matter for him and the House”.

Vaz has allegedly paid for sex with two male prostitutes and also offered to pay for a class A or banned drug. Various comments and conversations of Mr. Vaz have been revealed. Most of his chats with various people have gone viral and pictures of condoms on his coffee table, at his flat have also been found out.

Labour shadow health secretary Diane Abbott said ‘I have known Keith for over 30 years, I think this must be a dreadful time for him, and his family – his wife and his two children. And I would rather not comment.’

– Prepared by Manthra Koliyer with inputs from various agencies. 

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Facebook, Zuckerberg Criticized For Allegedly Undermining Democratic Institutions

Legal documents reviewed by Reuters show how the investigation by British lawmakers has led them to seize documents relating to Facebook.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election and data privacy. VOA

Facebook came under fire on Tuesday from lawmakers from several countries who accused the firm of undermining democratic institutions and lambasted chief executive Mark Zuckerberg for not answering questions on the matter.

Facebook is being investigated by lawmakers in Britain after consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which worked on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, obtained the personal data of 87 million Facebook users from a researcher, drawing attention to the use of data analytics in politics.

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The nameplate of political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica, is seen in central London, Britain. VOA

Concerns over the social media giant’s practices, the role of political adverts and possible interference in the 2016 Brexit vote and U.S. elections are among the topics being investigated by British and European regulators.

While Facebook says it complies with EU data protection laws, a special hearing of lawmakers from several countries around the world in London criticized Zuckerberg for declining to appear himself to answer questions on the topic.

“We’ve never seen anything quite like Facebook, where, while we were playing on our phones and apps, our democratic institutions… seem to have been upended by frat-boy billionaires from California,” Canadian lawmaker Charlie Angus said.

“So Mr. Zuckerberg’s decision not to appear here at Westminster [Britain’s parliament] to me speaks volumes.”

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Avaaz campaigners hold a banner in front of 100 cardboard cutouts of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington. VOA

Documents

Richard Allan, the vice president of policy solutions at Facebook who appeared in Zuckerberg’s stead, admitted Facebook had made mistakes but said it had accepted the need to comply with data rules.

“I’m not going to disagree with you that we’ve damaged public trust through some of the actions we’ve taken,” Allan told the hearing.

Facebook has faced a barrage of criticism from users and lawmakers after it said last year that Russian agents used its platform to spread disinformation before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, an accusation Moscow denies.

Allan repeatedly declined to give an example of a person or app banned from Facebook for misuse of data, aside from the GSR app which gathered data in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Also Read: Social Media Laws Should Be Tightened: Germany

Legal documents reviewed by Reuters show how the investigation by British lawmakers has led them to seize documents relating to Facebook from app developer Six4Three, which is in a legal dispute with Facebook.

Damian Collins, chair of the culture committee which convened the hearing, said he would not release those documents on Tuesday as he was not in a position to do so, although he has said previously the committee has the legal power to. (VOA)