28 Jul 2015

Lord Sewel resigned from House of Lords amid drug scandal

Lord Sewel, who is alleged to have taken cocaine with two prostitutes, has resigned from the House of Lords.

The disgraced peer has stepped down after video footage obtained by The Sun on Sunday appears to show him snorting white powder off a woman’s breasts in his London flat.

In a letter to Parliamentary officials, has apologised for the “pain and embarrassment” he has caused.

He said: “I have today written to the Clerk of the Parliaments terminating my membership of the House of Lords.

“The question of whether my behaviour breached the Code of Conduct is important, but essentially technical.

I hope my decision will limit and help repair the damage I have done to an institution I hold dear –Lord Sewel

“The bigger questions are whether my behaviour is compatible with membership of the House of Lords and whether my continued membership would damage and undermine public confidence in the House of Lords.

“I believe the answer to both these questions means that I can best serve the House by leaving it.

“Pain and embarrassment”

“As a subordinate, second chamber the House of Lords is an effective, vital but undervalued part of our political system.

“I hope my decision will limit and help repair the damage I have done to an institution I hold dear. Finally, I want to apologise for the pain and embarrassment I have caused.”

The video footage appears to show Lord Sewel taking drugs with prostitutes and at one point his is pictured wearing an orange bra and leather jacket smoking and drinking with the women.

He can also be heard making derogatory comments about a number of high-profile politicians including David Cameron, Boris Johnson and Alex Salmond.

The Metropolitan Police has launched a criminal investigation and said it was looking into “allegations of drug-related offences involving member of the House of Lords”.

Last night police with sniffer dogs searched the peer’s flat in Dolphin Square and investigators were seen leaving three hours later carrying bags of evidence.

On Monday, Lord Sewel requested a leave of absence from the Lords implying that he might still be clinging on to his seat in the House of Lords. However, the former Labour minister has bowed to intense pressure to resign from Parliament in the wake of the scandal.

Speaking on a trip to Southeast Asia, Mr Cameron suggested Lord Sewel should quit, saying: “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”.

The peer stepped down from his £84,500-a-year role as deputy speaker of the Lords and chairman of the Lords privileges and conduct committee on Sunday.

The committee is responsible for setting behaviour standards for peers and earlier this year Lord Sewel helped implement tougher new rules on conduct.

Despite his resignation from the House of Lords, the married peer will retain his title because peerages are bestowed by the Queen and it would be a matter for the palace.