The MP Simon Danczuk, a veteran of sex scandals, has urged Keith Vaz to ignore calls to resign after allegations about his private life.
Vaz is understood to have resigned from the Home Affairs select committee, which he chaired, after the Sunday Mirror published allegations that he had paid two men for sex. Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen has led calls for Vaz to resign from his seat as well. He is also demanding an investigation by parliamentary watchdogs.
But Danczuk, who was suspended from the Labour party in December 2015 over claims of sexting a 17-year-old girl, said Vaz remained a well-regarded constituency MP.
He told The Staggers: “I have real sympathy for Keith’s family for his wife and his children. They will be going through hell because of the media attention that follows such a sting.
“I also feel sorry for Keith himself. It is clear he has been struggling with his sexuality for a number of years and it must have caused distress.”
Danczuk believes it was right Vaz resigned from his select committee. He said: “I think he is going to discuss it in more detail with the members of the committee. You have got to remember he is elected by MPs. There should be a discussion about conflict of interest. I think Keith would admit it himself.
“But let’s put it into perspective. As far as we know he hasn’t done anything illegal. We have different moral judgements.”
Danczuk, who has remained MP for Rochdale, despite his suspension, dismissed calls for Vaz to resign his seat. He said: “I don’t think this will have any effect on Keith’s constituency. He is very well regarded and I understand he is a very good constituency MP.
“In my experience, the reaction in the constituency can be very different from social media. The benefit of being the MP for Rochdale is people come up to you and tell you exactly what they think. This little old Irish lady came up to me and said: ‘I see you’re up to your old tricks again.’ But then she said: ‘I wish the papers would leave you alone. You get on with your day job.’
“We don’t want cosseted MPs that meet a certain moral standard, we want people who have real life experience and bring it to inform policy. Britain’s a better place by having politicians in parliament who are from colourful backgrounds.”