Gordon Brown attempted to bribe MP with honour to push through terror legislation, alleges UK press
Censorship nutter MP Keith Vaz has been offered a knighthood by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, UK national newspapers have alleged.
According to The Times and The Guardian, there have been ‘strong hints’ that Vaz was offered the honour as part of a series of bribes from Brown to Labour MPs, in return for them voting for his controversial new terror detention laws.
Vaz, MP for Leicester East , has ‘strongly denied’ the rumour.
Censorial MP Keith Vaz is fighting to cling on to his position following the leak of a letter to The Daily Telegraph which suggested he could expect to be “rewarded” for backing the Government in a crucial vote on anti-terrorism laws.
Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, received a handwritten note from Geoff Hoon, the chief whip, which said he hoped Vaz would be appropriately rewarded for supporting laws to detain terror suspects for 42 days without
Members of the Home Affairs Select Committee have said that Vaz had questions which need to be addressed.
David Cameron, the Conservative leader, is understood to be “appalled” at the contents of the letter and raised the issue in the House of Commons.
Gordon Brown tells Keith Vaz I didn't try to bribe you.
Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, has challenged Gordon Brown to confirm he was not bribed ahead of the vote on 42 days.
Keith Vaz was originally opposed to the proposed counter-terrorism measures but later offered his full backing
Appearing alongside other committee chairman at their regular grilling of the Prime Minister, Vaz asked Brown about the Telegraph's revelation that he received a letter from Geoff Hoon, the Chief Whip, saying he hoped he would be "rewarded" for
supporting the Government's anti-terror plans: Is it the case that you authorised or offered any backbench Member of Parliament a peerage or a knighthood or honour, or even the Governorship of Bermuda in order to vote for your legislation?
Brown replied: Not at all. Nor do I recall sending any letters to anyone.
A senior Labour MP is facing demands for a sleaze inquiry after intervening in a court case on behalf of a party donor.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the influential home affairs select committee, urged the High Court to delay proceedings involving a friend from whom he and his family had received lavish hospitality.
We can reveal that the friend - controversial lawyer Shahrokh Mireskandari - was on the brink of losing a long-running legal costs battle with an airline when Vaz intervened.
Keith Vaz urged a judge to delay proceedings against his friend who was on the brink of losing a legal battle worth £400,000
The stakes were high as the lawyer is desperately challenging a court order to pay £400,000 in costs to the liquidator of the airline. He is now facing a bankruptcy action after losing his latest appeal.
At a critical point in the case Vaz wrote to the High Court asking the presiding judge to adjourn proceedings pending the outcome of complaints by Mireskandari about how the case had been previously handled, involving hotly contested allegations of
racism and bias.
Legal sources said the judge was furious at what he perceived to be 'political interference'.
Keith Vaz looked increasingly isolated last night after his position as chairman of an influential Commons committee was called into question by
He is likely to come under pressure to stand down at a meeting of the Home Affairs Select Committee following revelations in the Daily Mail that he intervened in a court case on behalf of a crooked friend.
In line with Parliamentary convention, members of the committee are refusing to criticise him publicly. But such is the level of anger that some have sanctioned friends to make their feelings clear.
One said last night: Vaz limps from drama to drama and it is about time he looked at his position. Another said that they expected Vaz's conduct to be brought up in a closed session today, while a third source close to an MP on the committee
claimed that the chairman's behaviour stinks.
As the pressure on him increased throughout, Vaz also faced a censure motion from the Commons over claims he abused his position.
Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: If these press reports are true, Vaz must quit as chairman of the Commons select committee. His position is simply not tenable, and the longer he stays, the more he brings the entire farcical Commons into yet further
Fellow Tory MP Andrew Robathan added: It is entirely inappropriate that the chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee should write to the Royal Courts of Justice expressing an opinion on a case before the courts.
Vaz is likely to escape a full-scale sleaze inquiry because he has already been cleared of wrongdoing over his links to Mireskandari by Parliamentary Standards Commissioner John Lyon.
The greatest pressure is likely to come from colleagues in the Commons, including those on the committee. Vaz did not receive the consent of fellow committee members to make his attempt to help Mireskandari, a convicted conman.
One MP said: If anyone writes in the capacity of a position on a select committee, then that letter should be circulated so that it has the agreement of the committee as a whole. Failing to do so deserves at the very least a warning and admonishment,
and such actions could be considered a sacking offence.
Vaz has so far refused justify his intervention as select committee chairman.
Four of Gordon Brown's ministers are exposed for milking the parliamentary MPs' expenses system and pushing their claims to the limit.
The Daily Telegraph's files show that Barbara Follett, the Tourism Minister; Phil Woolas, the Immigration Minister; Ben Bradshaw, the Health Minister; and Phil Hope, the Care Services Minister, have exploited the MPs' expenses system.
The questionable expense claims of two former ministers, Keith Vaz and Barry Gardiner, are also disclosed.
Keith Vaz, the former minister who now chairs the Home Affairs select committee, bought and furnished a flat in central London at taxpayers' expense despite living just 12 miles away with his wife in a £1.15 million property. He claimed more than
£75,000 for the flat.
Vaz also changed his designated second home for a single year to a property he owns in his Leicester constituency. During this year – 2007-08 – he claimed £1,000 for a table and chairs, £750 on new carpets, and £2,614 for a pair of
leather armchairs. He also claimed for 22 cushions, including 17 made from silk costing £15 each. During the course of the year he rented out his London flat.
Keith Vaz has widened his blame game in Swedish territory. He has posted the following Early Day Motion before the British parliament
VIDEO GAMES AND SHOOTING 27.10.2010
That this House notes with concern that the recent race shootings in Malmo, Sweden have been associated with the violent video game Counter-Strike; further notes that the internet-based, first-person shooting game that pits a
counter-terrorist team against terrorists was previously banned in Brazil and in 2007 was associated with US College Campus massacres; recognises the potential impact of violent video games on those under 18 years; and calls on the Government to ensure
the purchase of video games by those under 18 years is controlled and that parents are provided with clear information on the violent content of certain games.
The background is that police in the Swedish city of Malmo have confirmed that an as yet unnamed 38 year old man has been arrested in connection with a series of gun attacks on people with ethnic minority backgrounds.
Prior to the arrest, local police had suspected that more than a dozen unsolved shootings over the last year, in which one person died and eight more were wounded, may have been the work of lone gunman. The man arrested at the weekend has now been
charged with one count of murder and seven attempted murders.
So how do we get from racist nutjob shooting at the local migrant population to a three-year old video game?
It appears to have been The Times that decided to have a bit of dabble in stirring up a faux moral panic by quoting the opinions of a Mr Ahmad al-Mughrabi in its coverage of the story…
I am sure that this is down to some crazy kid who plays that sniping game Counterstrike all day. I don't believe in the lone Nazi theory
So who is our mysterious Mr al-Mughrabi? Is he a police officer? A city official? A representative of the Swedish Justice Ministry?
No, as far as anyone has managed to ascertain, to date, he's just some bloke that The Times picked off the street at random and that's all the evidence that Keith Vaz needs to put down an EDM and start banging on about violent video games, yet again.
The rollout of the new PEGI video games classification system will miss its current April 2010 deadline and will not be introduced
until July of this year at the earliest.
The Video Standards Council (VSC) will then take over administration of producer assigned games ratings using PEGI symbols and classifications.
The Conservative culture minister Ed Vaizey has admitted that: There's been some technical delays to iron out a few kinks – nothing fundamental, nothing serious. And we'll crack on with it as fast as we can.
believes that the delay is due to the time it will take to obtain European parliamentary approval.
Keith Vaz surprised a few parliamentarians when he turned up an event in support of gaming.
Parliament Games Day was organised by pressure group Gamers' Voice to bring together politicians and the industry to promote the cultural and economic strengths of British software.
Vaz told Eurogamer: I've never been against games. I've been against violent games that are able to fall into the hands of young people who are perhaps not able to understand the implications of what they're doing.
I don't oppose games, he inisted. I just think it's very important that people respect and acknowledge the age limits. And the campaign has always been about ensuring there is proper labelling so that people know exactly what kind of
games they should have.
Asked if he was happy with the new games classification system – still waiting to be passed into law – Vaz said he felt it was moving in the right direction . When we started this campaign the age limit was the size of half
a, I think, a 5p coin, which was very small, he explained. Obviously we want to see what PEGI does, but the more that they can draw to the attention of young people the need to respect the age limit better – and if you're over 18 you
can do what you want. No-one wants to stop you playing your games.
Indecision over whether games featuring video content still need a BBFC certificate has temporarily derailed the implementation of
The handover from the BBFC to the VSC will not now occur until September at the very earliest.
A new government proposal states that interactive entertainment which features linear content (such as trailers) would require a BBFC rating. That means a game that features a video in it will need to have both a PEGI and BBFC label on the box.
UKIE representing UK games producers condemned the proposal, saying in a statement:
Any dual labelling is contrary to the principles that were established in having PEGI introduced into the Digital Economy Act and if this proposal were implemented we believe it would only cause unnecessary and potentially
harmful consumer confusion.
MP Keith Vaz appeared on the BBC Radio Three show, hosted by Ben Jackson, on the subject of the amount of time that children spend playing video games.
The internet can be used as a force for good and video games can provide the opportunity for people, young people to be able enjoy themselves. But the concern is the length of time they are spending on the internet and playing
video games and also, and perhaps more importantly, the fact that those video games that have adult content are being seen by those under the age of 18.
The problem with the gamers is that they go berserk any time anyone says anything about these video games as if they were the Holy Grail of entertainment.
I cite as my evidence a Mr Miyamoto, the creator of one of the greatest video games ever - Super Mario, Vaz added, who suggested in an article in The Times on 22nd April that young people should drop their joypads and venture
out into the sunlight once in a while. If someone like that can say it then it is something that we need to be concerned about.
Vaz revealed that his two teenage children have game consoles and I'm constantly telling my son to come off of his machine . But it is a bit of a battle and one doesn't want to upset one's children, he said, especially when
they're teenagers ha ha ha ha.
Tom Watson gamely proposes to amend the Vaz EDM by replacing it entirely.
EDM Amendment 2427A1 - CALL OF DUTY 3
Primary sponsor: Tom Watson
Sponsors: Julian Huppert, Kerry McCarthy
That this House notes:
that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) gave the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 an 18 classification, noting that 'the game neither draws upon nor resembles real terrorist attacks on the underground;
further believes that the game has an excellent user interface and challenges the gamers' dexterity as well as collaborative skills in an outline setting; and
encourages the BBFC to uphold the opinion of the public that whilst the content of video games may be unsettling or upsetting to some, adults should be free to choose their own entertainment in the absence of legal issues or material which
raises a risk or harm.
Business of the House
House of Commons
1st December 2011
Keith Vaz (Leicester East, Labour)
Could we have a debate next week about the harmful effects of violent video games? Last week, the university of Indiana published research that showed that regularly playing those games resulted in physical changes in the brain. At a time when parents
are thinking of purchasing video games for Christmas, does the right hon. Gentleman not think that it is important to hold a debate on this matter? This is not about censorship---it is about protecting our children.
George Young (Leader of the House of Commons, House of Commons; North West Hampshire, Conservative)
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman, and I know that this is an issue that he has pursued with vigour for some time. I cannot promise a debate next week. Home Office questions, I think, will be held on 12 December, but in the meantime I will draw
his concern to the attention of the Home Secretary.
Last week Game Politics pointed out that the research cited was in fact supported by the Center for Successful Parenting, Indiana. This is in fact a nutter group with a website that is designed for parents to learn about the negative side effects of
violent video. See article about the cited research
That this House is deeply concerned by recent research which suggests that frequently using the internet or videogames can have a physical effect on the brain, similar to that of drugs or alcohol; notes that both neuronal connections between brain
areas and brain functions including emotions, decision-making and self-control are affected; calls for further research to be conducted into these serious findings; and further calls for the NHS to provide effective support to those who suffer
from internet or gaming addictions.
Keith Vaz has had another knock at the Top Gear Christmas Special that featured a few jokey comments about India.
Vaz has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament saying:
That this House is deeply concerned by recent events which have served to undermine the excellent relationship between India and the UK;
notes that the Top Gear India Christmas Special, featuring the unhelpful comments of Jeremy Clarkson and Dow Chemicals' sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympics in particular have had a very negative reaction in India;
is concerned that Indian student applications to UK universities are falling;
is disappointed by Britain's failure to secure the fighter jet contract from India despite the efforts of successive defence ministers;
and calls on the Government to re-energise this vital, special and enduring relationship which ought to be one of the closest and most beneficial in the world.
Keith Vaz has been casting doubt on PEGI ratings suggesting that these require further government scrutiny
As usual Vaz has voiced his concerns via an Early Day Motion 2761 in Parliament saying:
That this House notes that:
Tiga, the trade body representing independent UK video games developers, has come out in support of targeted tax relief for the games industry;
encourages tax relief for small and medium-sized enterprises for its role in generating and safeguarding jobs, especially in these current difficult times;
remains concerned that regulation of the video games industry is lacking in comparison to other industries; is anxious that the Pan European Game Information (PEGI) classification of video games is taken as seriously as the British Board of Film
Classification by both retailers and shoppers;
wishes the public was more aware of the risks to children and young adults;
and calls on the Government to place more scrutiny on the PEGI classification system.
The only signature supporting the motion so far is sponsor Mike Hancock.
Early day motion 3014: VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES (No. 2)
Primary sponsor: Keith Vaz
That this House is reminded of the consequences of the ineffectual Pan European Game Information (PEGI) classification system for video games following the testimony of Anders Breivik about the tragic events in Norway in July 2011;
notes that in his submission of evidence to the court Breivik describes how he trained for the attacks using the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare ;
is disturbed that Breivik used the game to help hone his target acquisition and the suggestion that the simulation prepared him for the attacks;
is concerned that PEGI as a classification system can only provide an age-rating and not restrict ultra-violent content; recognises that in an era of ever-more sophisticated and realistic game-play more robust precautions must be taken before video games
are published; and
calls on the Government to provide for closer scrutiny of aggressive first-person shooter video games.
House of Commons, Questions re Culture, Media and Sport, 16th May 2012.
Keith Vaz (Leicester East, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport whether his Department has any plans to place further restrictions on the content of video games following the testimony of Anders Breivik.
Edward Vaizey (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Culture, Communications and Creative Industries), Business, Innovation and Skills; Wantage, Conservative)
The Government is currently moving towards strengthening the laws in respect of video game regulation. We have recently announced our intention to designate officers of the Video Standards Council as the authorities responsible for the classification of
video games. When that process is complete, it will for the first time be a legal requirement for all video games suitable for those aged 12 or over to be classified. It will be an offence to supply a video game in breach of its classification. In
addition, there is one extra safeguard in the UK that is not part of the general Pan European Games Information scheme that we will be using: in the UK, there will be the option of refusing classification where a video game cannot fit within the
published PEGI criteria. If a game that |s not exempt has no classification, it will be an offence to supply it to anyone.
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport how many representations his Department has received from the Pan European Game Information Service in relation to newly-published video games.
The Pan European Games Information system is the mechanism by which video games are rated. The bodies that implement the scheme are independent of Government and have not made any representations about newly-published video games
Vince Cable, the business secretary, has said Google and other internet companies must be more proactive about policing content. He has
become the first cabinet minister to intervene over the supposed shocking availability of illegal child abuse images online, urging Google to take more action to police explicit material. He spouted:
I think probably where there is some scope for taking action is getting the companies that host these sites, Google and the rest of it, to be more proactive in policing what is there.
A senior Google spokesman angrily denied it does not take appropriate action to remove illegal and extreme material from its search results. He explained that Google is regularly sent lists of illegal abuse sites and search terms from the industry-funded
body, Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which it then bans. The company said it had an internal structure operating around the clock to tackle these images.
Scott Rubin, Google's director of communications outside America, said:
The SafeSearch filter, which is designed to prevent sexually explicit material of all kinds from showing up in your search results, should not be conflated or confused with our dedication to keeping illegal abuse imagery out of our products. We don't
rely simply on filtering technology to block child abuse images; we go beyond that.
We are very proactive and work with the right people, including the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in the US and the IWF, to keep child abuse content off all of our sites. Any implication we aren't doing anything or we refuse to be
part of removing this material is wrong.
Keith Vaz, chair of the Commons home affairs select committee, similarly chipped in that he was appalled that child abuse images were so readily accessible online and urged the government to adhere to a commitment to establish a code of conduct
with internet service providers:
The Mark Bridger case has shown that we need to act to remove such content from the internet. The committee has in the past recommended that the government establish a code of conduct with internet service providers to remove material which breaches
acceptable behaviour standards. I am very disappointed that although the government said it would engage with the industry on this issue, we are yet to see any action resulting from this.
Meanwhile the IWF have reported low numbers of sites and views of illegal material, but have indicated an unsurprising reluctance to report child abuse images. Presumably massive reactions to the crime create the perception that those reporting it may
get risk getting caught up in fallout.
Apparently more than 1.5 million internet users in the UK mistakenly viewed child abuse images online last year, according to the IWF -- but only 40,000 items were reported to its hotline. Google and other companies block around 1,000 sites over illegal
sexual abuse imagery in a list compiled by IWF.
Keith Vaz use to feature frequently on Melon Farmers due a series of ludicrous whinges blaming video games for all Britain's ills. He has wisely kept quiet on
the topic for the last few years though.
Now he has rather rudely been by outed as a gay customer of sex workers by the Sunday Mirror. This rather conflicts with his chairmanship of the influential Commons Home Affairs parliamentary select committee which is looking into Britain's laws
governing sex work.
He conceded on Sunday that he would have to relinquish his post as chair committee, at least temporarily. Although he said he would not be making a formal announcement until he meets the committee on Tuesday, he effectively confirmed that he would have
to stand aside when he issued a statement saying he did not want to be a distraction .
The Labour MP also condemned the conduct of the Sunday Mirror, saying it was deeply troubling that a national newspaper should have paid individuals who have acted in this way .
Vaz has not been overly hypocritical about sex work law, it is not as if he has been pushing for the criminalisation of people who buy sex. In its interim report on prostitution in July, the home affairs committee said:
We are not yet convinced that the sex buyer law would be effective in reducing demand or in improving the lives of sex workers, either in terms of the living conditions for those who continue to work in prostitution or the effectiveness of services to
help them find new ways to earn a living.
Evaluations of the impact of sex buyer laws are largely based on data about street prostitution, and therefore offer little insight into the large parts of the sex industry which take place in various indoor environments, and there are indications that
the law can be misused to harass and victimise sex workers, who are the very people whom the law is seeking to protect.
Vaz also argued in parliament that poppers should not be included in a list of substances banned by the Psychoactive Substances Act and in the paper he is quoted as telling the escorts that he did not use them himself.
Chris Ashford in his lawandsexuality
blog points out that the Vaz evening of fun was not particularly unusual amongst the gay community:
It actually doesn't sound like that unusual night for many gay men who might engage in group sex bareback encounters, with some guys using class A drugs, many using poppers and perhaps some guys there who are sex workers (who may or may not be performing
that identity). The problem here is that Vaz is married to a woman and has as Pink News noted , apparently been outed by this story. Vaz has generally taken liberal positions on sex work and so there's arguably no hypocrisy there.
However Journalist and equality campaigner Paris Lees commented to thesun.co.uk
that Vaz was not totally above a bit of hypocrisy when he grilled her as chainman of the Home Affairs committee. She said:
This is same Keith Vaz who told me, last May, that he 'couldn't believe' I'd never met a prostitute that hadn't been forced into it.
I told him that during my time on the game, I never met a prostitute who HAD been forced into it.
Why is he paying prostitutes for sex if he thinks they are forced into it?
Offsite Comment: The outrage against Keith Vaz is nothing but Victorian puritanism
He has a range of views on a range of topics. Some of them, like his obsession with violent games, are very silly. Some are
downright morally reprehensible, such as his help in whipping up outrage against Salman Rushdie over the Satanic Verses. Some are perfectly commendable, such as his continued commitment to people lost and betrayed by the asylum and immigration system.
Regardless of their relative validity, they earned him enemies, who will now get involved in picking away at the remnants of his career. Not the least of these will be anti-prostitution groups, who were dismayed by a recent home affairs committee report
which recommended decriminalising sex work completely. They are likely to use the story to discredit that report.
In the wake of the news there are a lot of people saying uninformed shit. People who weren't there trying to rewrite Home Affairs
Select Committee's hearings on prostitution. I was called to give evidence. Maybe you remember; it was in a lot of papers. Here is what really happened back in May.
All media coverage from May noted how me and @ParisLees had to stomp hard on bullshit lines of questioning from hostile MPs to get any of our points across. We went there fully expecting, and pretty much got, a beasting. Compare to the easy questions
lobbed at Kat Banyard at the first hearing, who was never a sex worker and has never worked with a prostitution charity or outreach...as far as anyone can tell, her only firsthand experience with sex workers is having met me in a BBC green room once.
When I called out the committee for visiting Sweden and Denmark without meeting local sex worker-led orgs, Keith Vaz had the audacity to claim that they had. I know he was wrong; sex work organisations were shut out of the consultation visits. Why?
Because Vaz had been a vocal supporter of the Swedish model. Now people are trying to imply Vaz gave us a helping hand in the results? As if.