THE charity commission is to look into allegations that the Labour MP Keith Vaz used money from a diabetes charity to pay male prostitutes who visited his London flat.
The claims suggest that the Leicester East MP and chairman of the powerful home affairs select committee gave funds from the Silver Star charity to Eastern Europe escorts with whom he had a liaison last month.
Mr Vaz, whose role on the select committee gives him enormous influence over policy on vice and drug issues, is accused of having sex with three male prostitutes and even offering to pay for cocaine for them after a secret recording was made public.
He has told friends the claims are untrue and has suggested he may have been the victim of a "sting" in which he was deliberately drugged. Last night Mr Vaz refused to confirm whether he intended to resign as chairman of the home affairs select committee.
Mr Vaz set up Silver Star six years ago after being diagnosed with diabetes. The charity operates worldwide to raise awareness of the condition.
But bank statements belonging to one of the male prostitutes purportedly show two payments of pounds 150 each received from a man linked to Silver Star.
The first of these payments was made on Aug 5, three weeks before the alleged liaison, although the prostitutes claimed they met Mr Vaz - who is married with two children - on more than one occasion.
There is no suggestion that anyone associated with Silver Star was aware what the payments were for, but last night a former trustee of the charity said the matter had to be investigated as a matter of urgency.
Dr Malde Modhwadia, who stepped down from his volunteer role three months ago, said: "We need to find out what has been going on. There will be an investigation.
"Our charity is a worldwide charity, with its headquarters in Leicester and we do good work raising health awareness for diabetes sufferers. Mr Vaz founded it and is the patron.
"I cannot believe he would use anyone linked to the charity to pay cash into an account to pay for his escorts. It would be too clear and obvious. We are a completely open charity and I'm in the process of making inquiries."
Referring to the reports about Mr Vaz he said: "He is my constituency MP and I am really shocked. He has a wife and kids and has been leading a double life, not that being gay is a crime or illegal but he is a family man."
MPs said there were urgent questions to be answered about the alleged payments from a charity account. Andrew Bridgen, a Tory MP, said: "I will be writing to the charity commission to ask if they will investigate the financial links and relationship between the charity, Mr Vaz and paying for male prostitutes." John Mann, a Labour colleague of Mr Vaz, also said the Charity Commission needed to establish exactly what had happened with the payments. "I am sure they are going to do that straightaway," he said. "They have not got any choice. The best thing is for Keith to outline everything and then people can make their own judgment. If it was true it would be horrific."
Officials at the Charity Commission said the regulator would be looking at the payments to ensure there was nothing untoward.
A spokesman said: "We will assess this information to determine whether there is any role for us ... we will be looking in to it."
Mr Vaz was last night said to be determined to prove his innocence. A friend claimed the two prostitutes had actually been painters who had come to redecorate a new flat he had bought close to his family home in Stanmore, Middlesex.
A source at Trinity Mirror, the publisher of the Sunday Mirror, said the newspaper stood by its story: "This is not a sting. This is not a set up, we have not entrapped him into anything he was not doing anyway."
Last night, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, appeared to play down the row, saying that Mr Vaz "hasn't committed any crime that I know of. As far as I'm aware it is a private matter, and I will obviously be talking to Keith."
u?Leon Brittan's widow could reportedly sue police for up to pounds 1?million after officers searched her homes in London and West Yorkshire using an allegedly invalid warrant during a paedophile ring inquiry, the Mail on Sunday reported.
Police later closed the investigation after admitting they had no evidence to back claims that a network of senior establishment figures, including Lord Brittan, the former home secretary, abused young boys in the 1970s and 1980s.