British police are investigating allegations of drug-related offenses involving a member of the House of Lords after a tabloid newspaper published images and video footage of an alleged peer snorting cocaine with suspected prostitutes in a London apartment.
Scotland Yard made the announcement shortly after John Sewel, who had been in charge of overseeing standards in the upper house of Parliament, said he was taking a leave of absence from the House of Lords.
Sewel resigned a day earlier as deputy speaker and the chairman of the Privileges and Conduct Committee after the Sun published images and video footage that appeared to show him snorting a white powder in the company of two women.
The newspaper reported that he gave one woman £200 (US$310) in cash and the other a check for the same amount, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The Sun on Sunday is owned by The Wall Street Journal’s parent company, News Corp.
Sewel couldn’t be reached for further comment.
London’s Metropolitan Police, known as Scotland Yard, said it has taken a search warrant at an address in central London as part of its criminal investigation into alleged drug-related offenses involving an unnamed member of the House of Lords.
No arrests have been made and the investigation is continuing.
The incident is the latest in a string of parliamentary scandals that include lawmakers allegedly seeking to use their services to advance the interests of private companies, along with allegations and exposes about extravagant expense claims.
On Monday, the front page of the Sun — the Sun on Sunday’s weekday sister paper — carried a photograph purporting to show Sewel wearing one of the women’s bras and leather jacket.
Among the material the news organization released was video footage of Sewel appearing to make disparaging remarks to the women about several of his colleagues in parliament, including British Prime Minister David Cameron.
“He is the most facile, superficial prime minister there’s ever been,” Sewel said on camera. In another exchange, one of the women calls Sewel a party animal. “It’s disgusting, isn’t it?” he responded.
Mr. Cameron on Monday said the allegations against Sewel were very serious. “I’m sure further questions will be asked about whether it’s appropriate to have someone legislating and acting in the House of Lords if they have genuinely behaved in this way,” he said.
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