MP Vaz faces code-of-conduct probe

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Indy Politics

A Westminster sleaze watchdog has launched an inquiry into claims that Labour MP Keith Vaz tried to interfere in a court case, it was announced today.

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards John Lyon said he had received a complaint that the former Europe Minister may have breached the MPs' code of conduct.

It follows press reports that Mr Vaz wrote to the High Court asking it to delay proceedings in a case involving high-profile solicitor Shahrokh Mireskandari.

The MP was said to have failed to declare that he was a personal friend of Mr Mireskandari, who was challenging an order to pay six-figure costs relating to a disputed business deal.

A number of fellow MPs have publicly expressed concern over the alleged conduct of Mr Vaz, who is said to deny any wrongdoing.

Mr Vaz himself referred the allegations to the Commissioner last month but Mr Lyon would have required special authorisation of a committee of MPs to begin an inquiry on that basis.

In a statement, the Commissioner's office said: "The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has received a complaint against Mr Keith Vaz in respect of the allegations made in recent weeks in press reports which allege that he may have breached the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament and its associated rules.

"The Commissioner has decided to initiate an inquiry on the basis of the complaint he has received. As a result, it is not necessary for him to consider further whether to seek the authorisation of the Committee on Standards and Privileges exceptionally to undertake an inquiry on the basis of Mr Vaz's own referral of these allegations to him.

"The Commissioner will conduct his inquiry on the basis of his normal procedures."

A spokeswoman for Mr Vaz, MP for Leicester East and chair of the influential Commons home affairs select committee, said: "Mr Vaz is very pleased that these matters will now be investigated. He will now leave this up to the commissioner."