Sunday 25 February 2018

Lord Sewel 'will not quit' after he is pictured in prostitute's orange bra at cocaine sex party

Scandal: Baron John Sewel
Scandal: Baron John Sewel

Michael Wilkinson and Victoria Ward

Lord Sewel will be free to claim up to £300 a day in parliamentary allowances while any investigation is carried out into allegations that he snorted cocaine while cavorting with prostitutes.

The disgraced former Deputy Speaker of the Lords has indicated this morning that he would not quit his role as a peer despite fresh pictures emerging of him wearing a prostitute's orange bra at a sex party.

Lord Sewel, who has been suspended from the Labour party, will "tough it out" by not resigning as a peer, the BBC has reported.

The peer, who served as a minister under Tony Blair, will be able to continue to speak from the red benches and make full use of the House of Lords while his activities are probed.

The House of Lords authorities may face a delay of up to a year before they can use new powers to suspend or expel Lord Sewel.

The Labour MP John Mann led calls for Lord Sewel to be thrown out of parliament after the Speaker of the Lords, Lady D’Souza, described the crossbench peer’s alleged behaviour as “shocking and unacceptable”.

But the code of conduct for the House of Lords makes clear that any investigation by the commissioner for standards in the upper house has to be suspended if a matter is being investigated by the police.

The married peer was forced to resign on Sunday after he was caught on video apparently snorting cocaine while cavorting with two prostitutes.

Meanwhile, the House of Lords has had "no correspondence or indication from Lord Sewel as to his intentions", The Telegraph has learnt.

New pictures show him reclining with a cigarette whilst dressed in a bra and woman's leather jacket have been published by The Sun newspaper.

Lord Sewel of Gilcomstoun, 69, is said to have been recorded branding David Cameron "the most facile, superficial prime minister there's ever been" during the session with two £200-a-night prostitutes at his Dolphin Square flat in Westminster.

He reportedly said: "He just shoots from the hip. He is false. He makes one-off commitments and cannot deliver."

He labelled Mayor of London Boris Johnson "a joke" and a "public school upper class twit", adding: "He plays well in London because they like a cheeky chappie.

"Can you present Boris Johnson in Preston, in Burnley, in Manchester? No, they just think he's an a---hole."

Lord Sewel, who was responsible for upholding standards in the Lords, also described Scottish MP Alex Salmond as a "silly, pompous prat", according to footage obtained by The Sun.

Asked by one of the women, whose voice is disguised, about former Labour prime minister Tony Blair's decision to go to war in Iraq, Lord Sewel said the former party leader did so "because he fell in love with George Bush".

He claimed Blair's wife, Cherie, was "obsessed with money".

A bottle of what appears to be vodka sits on the table while Lord Sewel drinks from a glass at various points during his conversation with the women.

The Sun also reports that Lord Sewel said the Labour leadership race was "in a f---ing mess".

He is said to have called Jeremy Corbyn "useless" and "a romantic idiot" and claimed Andy Burnham has been "terribly contradictory" and "goes whichever way the wind is blowing".

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He said Yvette Cooper was "OK but not strong" and appeared to forget Liz Kendall's name, describing her as "a Blair supporter who is just too naive".

The one politician Lord Sewel did say something positive about was George Osborne, the Chancellor, who he described as a "very, very consummate politician" who would one day be prime minister.

The Lords authorities have said they will call in Scotland Yard over the footage, with sources suggesting that the peer will be asked to accept a caution.

He resigned as Deputy Speaker of the Lords on Sunday and also left his role as Chairman of Committees.

But he is facing calls to resign from parliament and could become the first peer expelled under tough new rules that he helped to introduce, even if police take no further action.

Lord Sewel was a Labour peer until resigning his party membership to take up the official role in the House of Lords and is formally known as a "non-affiliated member".

How Lord Sewel will be investigated

A referral is expected to be made that would trigger an initial assessment by Lords Commissioner for Standards Paul Kernaghan to decide if there is a case to pursue.

The former police chief constable would investigate whether there has been a breach of Lords rules, which maintain that members must "always act on their personal honour", and then send the case to the Lords sub-committee on conduct.

It would decide what punishment the peer should face and, under rules that came into force on July 16, could recommend Lord Sewel is expelled from the House of Lords.

The recommendation would then go before the Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee, which Lord Sewel chaired until the scandal broke, and it would consider any appeal made by the peer.

Such a decision would need to be rubber-stamped through a formal vote in the chamber and at that point the former Scottish minister could be kicked out of Parliament.

Anyone can make a formal complaint about a peer but investigations can take many months to complete.

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