LORD SEWEL is facing a police investigation after quitting as Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords over a video allegedly showing him taking drugs with prostitutes.
The peer, who served as a minister in the Scotland office under Tony Blair’s Labour government, resigned from his role as chairman of Committees in the Lords in the wake of the Sunday tabloid expose. The footage appeared to show a naked Lord Sewel, who had responsibility for enforcing standards in the Upper House, snorting white powder from a woman’s breasts using a £5 note.
Members of her Lordship’s House are right thieves, rogues and b*****ds at times. Wonderful people that they are.Lord Sewel
The 69-year-old now risks becoming the first peer expelled under tough new rules that he himself helped implement.
Lords Speaker Baroness D’Souza branded the peer’s behaviour “shocking and unacceptable” and said she was calling in Scotland Yard.
“The House of Lords will continue to uphold standards in public life and will not tolerate departure from these standards,” Lady D’Souza said in a statement.
“These serious allegations will be referred to the House of Lords Commissioner for Standards and the Metropolitan Police for investigation as a matter of urgency.”
In the film, Lord Sewel, whose main home is in Aberdeenshire, is reportedly shown with two women at his flat in Dolphin Square, Pimlico, a couple of miles from parliament.
He apparently paid one for the night with a cheque for £200, dated 22 July. In between snorting lines of white powder, Lord Sewel is said to be heard complaining that he struggles to afford the £1,000 a month rent on the flat.
The peer is asked whether he receives expenses and explains that he now gets a flat-rate allowance of £200 a day.
”It’s all changed and disappeared. People were making false claims,” he said.
“Members of her Lordship’s House who are right thieves, rogues and b******s at times. Wonderful people that they are.”
In fact, the allowance for the Lords is £300 a day and did not apply to Lord Sewel.
The peer, known as Baron Sewel of Gilcomstoun, had a salary of £84,500 for his role as chairman of Committees. As he declared his main residence was in Scotland, he was also entitled to a tax-free office holder’s allowance of £36,000 plus travel and other expenses.
First elected to political office as an Aberdeen District Councillor in 1974, the three-times married Lord Sewel is a former Senior Vice Principal of the University of Aberdeen and former parliamentary Under-Secretary of State.
He had not commented on the allegations by last night and yesterday was keeping a low profile.
Neighbours at the flat in London said he had not been there all weekend.
One, who lives opposite but did not want to be named, said it was common for people living in the square not to bump into their neighbours for long periods and she had not seen Lord Sewel for several months.
The House of Lords (Suspension and Expulsion) Act 2015, which Lord Sewel helped implement, allows peers to be barred from parliament if they breach a beefed-up code of conduct.
The code maintains that members must “always act on their personal honour”.
The Lords Commissioner for Standards, Paul Kernaghan, a former police chief constable, will now gather evidence on whether there has been any misconduct.
The cross-party Lords Privileges and Conduct Committee – which Lord Sewel chaired until the scandal broke – will then decide on a punishment.
Earlier this month, Lord Sewel wrote an article on the new rules that stated: “Scandals make good headlines. The requirement that members must always act on their personal honour has been reinforced.”
Police sources indicated that they would assess the evidence after the referral from Baroness D’Souza, but pointed out that drug-taking allegations were notoriously difficult to prove when there was only video evidence, rather than substances that could be tested.
A police spokesman said: “We are aware of the story in relations to Class A drug use at an address in Westminster.
“Any allegation will be investigated.”