Did it have a contract with the escorts & assist their secret recording?
Where is the public interest justification for exposing Vaz?
London, UK – 5 September 2016
Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the UK parliament’s Home Affairs Committee, was outed in the Sunday Mirror for using male escorts and discussing drug use:
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said:
“I find it very difficult to see any public interest justification for the exposure of Keith Vaz. He may have behaved unwisely, but there is no evidence of criminal wrong-doing or hypocrisy.
“Buying sex is not an offence. Keith has supported gay rights and the decriminalisation of sex work. His public pronouncements do not contradict his private behaviour.
“So where is the public interest in outing him?
“The Sunday Mirror needs to answer these questions:
“Did it have a signed contract with the escorts and did it pay them £30,000 for their story?
“Did the paper have advance knowledge of the escorts meeting Vaz and assist them in recording their conversation with him?
“If there was a signed contract, was it signed in advance of the escorts rendezvous with Vaz? If a contract exists, I urge the paper to publish it so we can all see what it involved.
“It looks like a classic tabloid sting organised by the Sunday Mirror with sensationalist motives in order boost sales. I am concerned that the whole scenario may have been set up by the newspaper in collusion with the escorts, in order to entrap the MP.
“This was not about defending the public interest. It looks like a sordid money-making conspiracy by the newspaper and the escorts – a throw-back to the squalid tabloid excesses of the 1980s.
“Given the absence of any public interest justification, there is prima facie evidence that the Sunday Mirror has broken the press regulation code prohibiting unwarranted intrusion into privacy.
“It is true that that Keith did not declare an interest when his Home Affairs Committee was investigating poppers and sex work criminalisation. But we don’t demand that MPs who drink and smoke declare an interest when they discuss legislation affecting the alcohol and cigarette industries. Why should Vaz be treated any differently?
“We must be mindful of how hard it is for gay and bisexual people to come out in some sections of the Asian community, where conservative, traditional views often hold sway. Homophobia kept Keith Vaz in the closet and we should all be appalled by that,” said Mr Tatchell.