Investigate Keith Vaz, urges Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen
Parliament's watchdog is being urged to investigate Keith Vaz after reports that large sums of "suspicious" cash were paid into the MP's bank accounts.
Yesterday, the Daily Telegraph published a story outlining details of a Scotland Yard probe into Mr Vaz's financial affairs.
The article said detectives discovered £500,000 was apparently deposited into the Labour Leicester East MP's accounts over a six-year period – in addition to his salary – between 1997 and 2001.
The report said a police document revealed officers could not establish the source of the cash but "the level of funds received... are of a suspicious nature".
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Tory North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen yesterday wrote to the parliamentary standards commissioner, who is responsible for investigating complaints about MPs who have allegedly breached the members' code of conduct.
He asked the commissioner, Sir John Lyon, to see whether Mr Vaz broke the rules by failing to declare outside interests.
Mr Vaz has denied having any outside interests and said the payments "were not suspicious in any way and relate to the sale of a family home in London".
Mr Bridgen told the Mercury the Telegraph story raised a number of questions the commissioner ought to investigate.
He said: "I am concerned that Mr Vaz may have breached parliamentary standards by not declaring an interest."
Mr Bridgen has also asked the commissioner to reopen his predecessor's investigation into the Hinduja Brothers affair.
Mr Vaz's relationship with the billionaire Indian businessmen, who were seeking British passports, was investigated by the standards commissioner in 2001 and 2002.
Following that investigation, Mr Vaz was given a month-long suspension from Parliament in 2002, for "serious breaches" of the MPs' code of conduct and contempt of the House.
Mr Bridgen wants the commissioner to investigate whether Mr Vaz lied during the original investigation.
He also called for Mr Vaz to step down from his role as Home Affairs Select Committee chairman should the commissioner begin an inquiry.
Mr Bridgen said: "Of course he is innocent until proven guilty, but if an investigation begins it would be appropriate for him to stand down given the role he has in holding the police to account."
The Leicester Mercury yesterday asked for an interview with Mr Vaz, who was in Manchester for the Labour Party conference, but he was unavailable.
He did issue a statement saying: "The Telegraph contacted me on Sunday about an investigation which may or may not have occurred 10 years ago. I asked them to supply me with a copy of the report but they did not have one.
"These matters relate to two Parliamentary inquires (sic) which began in 1999 and concluded in 2003.
"My finances were discussed by every newspaper in the country for three years and were the subject of extensive examination. I have had no outside interests.
"The Telegraph claims that the unnamed police officer states the payments into my account were suspicious. They were not suspicious. They relate to the sale of a family home in London, the purchase of a new family home and a drawdown of equity from my bank."
The Metropolitan Police said: "It would not be appropriate to comment on any individual historical financial investigations."
A spokesman for the office of the parliamentary standards commissioner said he would respond to Mr Bridgen's letter within five working days.