Keith Vaz looked increasingly isolated last night after his position as chairman of an influential Commons committee was called into question by senior MPs.
He is likely to come under pressure to stand down at a meeting of the Home Affairs Select
Committee following revelations in the Daily Mail that he intervened in a court case on behalf of a crooked friend.
In line with Parliamentary convention, members of the committee are refusing to criticise him publicly. But such is the level of
anger that some have sanctioned friends to make their feelings clear.
One said last night: Vaz limps from drama to drama and it is about time he looked at his position. Another said that they expected Vaz's conduct to be brought up in a
closed session today, while a third source close to an MP on the committee claimed that the chairman's behaviour stinks.
As the pressure on him increased throughout, Vaz also faced a censure motion from the Commons over claims he abused
Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: If these press reports are true, Vaz must quit as chairman of the Commons select committee. His position is simply not tenable, and the longer he stays, the more he brings the entire farcical
Commons into yet further disrepute.
Fellow Tory MP Andrew Robathan added: It is entirely inappropriate that the chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee should write to the Royal Courts of Justice expressing an opinion on a case
before the courts.
Vaz is likely to escape a full-scale sleaze inquiry because he has already been cleared of wrongdoing over his links to Mireskandari by Parliamentary Standards Commissioner John Lyon.
The greatest pressure is likely
to come from colleagues in the Commons, including those on the committee. Vaz did not receive the consent of fellow committee members to make his attempt to help Mireskandari, a convicted conman.
One MP said: If anyone writes in the capacity
of a position on a select committee, then that letter should be circulated so that it has the agreement of the committee as a whole. Failing to do so deserves at the very least a warning and admonishment, and such actions could be considered a sacking
Vaz has so far refused justify his intervention as select committee chairman.
Keith Vaz has widened his blame game in Swedish territory. He has posted the following Early Day Motion before the British parliament
VIDEO GAMES AND SHOOTING 27.10.2010
That this House notes with concern that the recent race shootings in Malmo, Sweden have been associated with the violent video game Counter-Strike; further notes that the internet-based, first-person shooting game that pits a counter-terrorist team against terrorists was previously banned in Brazil and in 2007 was associated with US College Campus massacres; recognises the potential impact of violent video games on those under 18 years; and calls on the Government to ensure the purchase of video games by those under 18 years is controlled and that parents are provided with clear information on the violent content of certain games.
The background is that police in the Swedish city of Malmo have confirmed that an as yet unnamed 38 year old man has been arrested in connection with a series of gun attacks on people with ethnic minority backgrounds.
Prior to the arrest, local police had suspected that more than a dozen unsolved shootings over the last year, in which one person died and eight more were wounded, may have been the work of lone gunman. The man arrested at the weekend has now been charged with one count of murder and seven attempted murders.
So how do we get from racist nutjob shooting at the local migrant population to a three-year old video game?
It appears to have been The Times that decided to have a bit of dabble in stirring up a faux moral panic by quoting the opinions of
a Mr Ahmad al-Mughrabi in its coverage of the story…
I am sure that this is down to some crazy kid who plays that sniping game Counterstrike all day. I don't believe in the lone Nazi theory
So who is our mysterious Mr al-Mughrabi? Is he a police officer? A city official? A representative of the Swedish Justice Ministry?
No, as far as anyone has managed to ascertain, to date, he's just some bloke that The Times picked
off the street at random and that's all the evidence that Keith Vaz needs to put down an EDM and start banging on about violent video games, yet again.
Keith Vaz has had another knock at the Top Gear Christmas Special that featured a few jokey comments about India.
Vaz has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament saying:
That this House is deeply concerned by recent events
which have served to undermine the excellent relationship between India and the UK;
notes that the Top Gear India Christmas Special, featuring the unhelpful comments of Jeremy Clarkson and Dow Chemicals' sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympics in particular have had a very negative reaction in India;
is concerned that Indian student applications to UK universities are falling;
is disappointed by Britain's failure to secure the fighter jet contract from India despite the efforts of
successive defence ministers;
and calls on the Government to re-energise this vital, special and enduring relationship which ought to be one of the closest and most beneficial in the world.
Early day motion 3014: VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES (No. 2)
Primary sponsor: Keith Vaz
That this House is reminded of the consequences of the ineffectual Pan European Game Information (PEGI) classification
system for video games following the testimony of Anders Breivik about the tragic events in Norway in July 2011;
notes that in his submission of evidence to the court Breivik describes how he trained for the attacks using the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare ;
is disturbed that Breivik used the game
to help hone his target acquisition and the suggestion that the simulation prepared him for the attacks;
is concerned that PEGI as a classification system can only provide an age-rating and not restrict ultra-violent
content; recognises that in an era of ever-more sophisticated and realistic game-play more robust precautions must be taken before video games are published; and
calls on the Government to provide for closer scrutiny of
aggressive first-person shooter video games.
House of Commons, Questions re Culture, Media and Sport, 16th May 2012.
Keith Vaz (Leicester East, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport whether his
Department has any plans to place further restrictions on the content of video games following the testimony of Anders Breivik.
Edward Vaizey (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Culture, Communications and
Creative Industries), Business, Innovation and Skills; Wantage, Conservative)
The Government is currently moving towards strengthening the laws in respect of video game regulation. We have recently announced our intention to
designate officers of the Video Standards Council as the authorities responsible for the classification of video games. When that process is complete, it will for the first time be a legal requirement for all video games suitable for those aged 12 or
over to be classified. It will be an offence to supply a video game in breach of its classification. In addition, there is one extra safeguard in the UK that is not part of the general Pan European Games Information scheme that we will be using: in the
UK, there will be the option of refusing classification where a video game cannot fit within the published PEGI criteria. If a game that |s not exempt has no classification, it will be an offence to supply it to anyone.
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport how many representations his Department has received from the Pan European Game Information Service in relation to newly-published video games.
The Pan European Games Information system is the mechanism by which video games are rated. The bodies that implement the scheme are independent of Government and have not made
any representations about newly-published video games