British peer quits House of Lords amid drug and sex allegations | News | DW | 28.07.2015
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British peer quits House of Lords amid drug and sex allegations

A British politician, Lord John Sewel, has resigned from the House of Lords after a newspaper published a video allegedly showing him using cocaine with prostitutes. Sewel was in charge of standards in the upper chamber.

Sewel, 69, quit as deputy speaker of the House of Lords on Tuesday, two days after British tabloid "The Sun" published video footage which it said showed him snorting cocaine from a prostitute's breasts through a rolled-up banknote.

"I have today written to the clerk of the parliaments terminating my membership of the House of Lords," Sewel said in a statement. "I want to apologize for the pain and embarrassment I have caused," he added.

Pictures published by the paper on Monday included one on the front page showing the former government minister, who is married, in an orange bra and leather jacket apparently borrowed from a prostitute (as seen above).

In the video released by "The Sun," he is also heard discussing the allowance he receives as a peer, telling two women: "It's not (for) lunch, luvvie darling - it's paying for this."

He is also heard criticizing fellowing politicians.

Scotland Yard investigation

His resignation follows comments by Prime Minister David Cameron, who on Monday questioned whether it was "appropriate" for Sewel to approve laws - the task of the upper chamber - in view of the "very serious allegations."

Lord John Sewel in his robes UPPA/Photoshot Photo UGL 010860/A-07 10.01.1996 +++ picture-alliance/Photoshot

Sewel was the victim of a media sting

Police are investigating the allegations, and on Monday night raided his home in an apartment block in central London, near the Houses of Parliaments. Scotland Yard said no arrests were made.

Lord Sewel was in charge of standards and discipline in the House of Lords. Less than two weeks ago, he wrote an article in which he stated that only a few lords damaged the reputation of the chamber with their behavior, and that most understood the importance of "personal honor."

'Get rid of them'

Commentators say his case will fuel more calls to overhaul the House of Lords, which is unelected, unlike the lower chamber, the House of Commons.

"The discredited House of Lords should be consigned to history where it belongs," the left-leaning "Mirror" wrote in its Tuesday editorial, following the front-page headline: "Now Get Rid Of The Lot Of Them."

Sewel, a former lecturer, had been a member of the House of Lords since 1996. He also served as a junior minister in the Scotland office under the Labour government of former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

tj/jil (Reuters, AFP)