Lord Sewel To Take 'Leave Of Absence' From The House Of Lords Following Sex, Drugs And Racism Allegations

Lord Sewel To Take 'Leave Of Absence' - But He's Not Quitting Yet

A peer embattled in a sex and drugs scandal will take a 'leave of absence' from the House of Lords, The Huffington Post UK has learned.

Lord Sewel, who was caught on camera snorting what looked like cocaine with two prostitutes, will voluntarily suspend his duties pending the outcome of police and Parliamentary investigations.

The leave of absence - a clear signal that he could hang on rather than quit completely - will be formally announced when the Lords sits again on September 7th and cannot be revoked without more than three months' notice.

On Monday evening, the Metropolitan Police said they had launched an investigation into allegations of drug use by the peer and executed a warrant on an address in central London at 6pm. No arrests were made.

Lord Sewel stood down yesterday as deputy speaker of the House Of Lords and chairman of its Privileges and Conduct Committee when a video published by The Sun On Sunday emerged showed him snorting cocaine with two prostitutes.

Only last week he wrote a blog for HuffPost UK on how "the actions of a few damage [The House of Lords'] reputation".

In a letter to the Clerk of Parliaments, Lord Sewel today wrote: "I wish to take leave of absence from the House as soon as it can be arranged.

"I also wish to make clear that in doing so I have no intention of returning to the House in any way until the current investigations have been completed, when in the light of their outcome I will review my long term position. I believe this is compatible with due process."

During his leave of absence, he is not able to claim any allowances - worth upto £300 a day - from the Lords.

But his decision to absent himself rather than take early retirement from the Lords, is sure to spark further controversy.

David Cameron said today that questions had to be asked about how 'appropriate' it was for Lord Sewel to continue as a legislator.

And the peer was told he should resign as a peer completely for his comments that Asian women are "whores".

In the Sun on Sunday sting, he was caught on tape saying: "We could've done with some nice little Asian lady tonight but never mind... They sort of look innocent but you know they're whores."

The Sun On Sunday yesterday (above) and The Sun today (below)

Baroness Sal Brinton, president of the Liberal Democrats, said his remarks had "no place in society" and called on him to stand down from the Lords altogether.

“His comments and conduct expose a man with little regard for women and a total disregard for the status and responsibility of his role," she said.

“Lord Sewel’s comments about women, and about Asian women in particular, are sexist and racist, and have no place in society."

She said an MP would be forced to resign in the same situation because they are accountable to constituents.

Baroness Brinton added: “Too often members of the House of Lords are afforded the luxury of permanent protection, able to claim public money while being publicly unaccountable. After two decades in the House of Lords it seems Lord Sewel felt unburdened by the need or desire to uphold the standards of public life.

"The House of Lords must be reformed as a matter of urgency. In the meantime, Lord Sewel should, if he has any sense of decency, resign immediately. If he will not do so, the Commissioner for Standards should begin his investigation of this case as soon as possible."

David Cameron has said Lord Sewel faced "questions" over whether he should continue as a peer.

He told The Telegraph: "I think it's right he has stood down from his committee posts and I'm sure further questions will be asked about whether it is appropriate to have someone legislating and acting in the House of Lords if they have genuinely behaved in this way.

"It's still going to take some time I suspect to get to the full truth."

Former Commons speaker, Baroness Boothroyd, told Radio Four's World At One that Lord Sewel "should take a quiet way out of the back door of the House of Lords".

Lords speaker Baroness D'Souza has written to police to request a criminal investigation into his behaviour.

Sunday's damaging coverage continued on Monday, when The Sun published more details of the video, including a photo of him smoking while wearing a bra.

Lord Sewel, who has not yet commented in response to the video, has indicated he will not stand down from the Lords, according to the BBC.


What's Hot