One of Britain's longest-serving Indian-origin MPs Keith Vaz faces a six-month suspension from Parliament after a House of Commons standards watchdog found he had "disregarded" the law.
Goan-origin Labour Party MP from Leicester East had been caught up in a scandal around his private life in 2016 following newspaper headlines linking him with male escorts. At the time, he had issued a public apology and stepped down as the head of the influential House of Commons' Home Affairs Committee.
A Parliament Standards Committee inquiry into his conduct concluded this week that the MP's claim that he had met the men to discuss the redecoration of his flat was "ludicrous" and recommended his suspension for "expressing a willingness" to supply cocaine to the two male prostitutes.
The watchdog said the 62-year-old politician had committed a "very serious breach" of the Commons code of conduct over an incident first reported in September 2016.
MPs will now have to vote in the House of Commons on whether to enforce the recommended action. If they do, it could trigger the process for constituents of the Leicester East MP to unseat him and force a by-election if supported by 10 per cent of his constituents.
The committee said there was "convincing evidence" that Vaz was "evasive or unhelpful" during an investigation into his conduct by the Commons standards commissioner, launched in the wake of the 'Sunday Mirror' allegations in 2016. The investigation was paused in December 2017 for "medical reasons" and recommenced in March 2018.
The final report said the MP "failed, repeatedly, to answer direct questions, gave incomplete answers and an account that was, in parts, incredible".
"Mr Vaz has done his best to complicate, obfuscate and confuse the inquiry through arguments of little merit and documentation of dubious relevance," the watchdog noted.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone added that her committee's aim throughout was "to establish whether the rules of the House have been complied with, not to investigate Mr Vaz's private life or to pass judgement on issues of sexual morality".
Vaz, who has been MP for Leicester East since 1987, had been due to contest his seat at the next general election, which could now be as soon as December if British Prime Minister Boris Johnson succeeds in his bid for a snap poll to push forward his Brexit agenda.