If ever there was a case of setting oneself up for an almighty fall, then the article of staggering pomposity written just 10 days ago—for the UK Huffington Post—by Lord Sewel of Gilcomstoun, head of standards in Britain’s House of Lords, the upper chamber of Britain’s Parliament, was surely it.
In his piece, the British peer expounded at great length on the “personal honor” of the members of the Lords and said that all British peers taking a seat in the House of Lords obeyed “the seven principles of public life” (these are selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership).
He allowed, naturally, that there were a few bad apples in the Lords who “damage our reputation.” However, he insisted, “The number of Members who break the House’s rules is small. Most work hard and provide a valuable service in inviting the Government to ‘think again’ about big issues, scrutinizing legislation and informing public policy debates.”
And then on Sunday, the Sun published pictures and footage of the head of standards apparently getting naked and snorting cocaine (in time-honored fashion) off the breasts of a woman—identified by the paper as a prostitute, one of two he had allegedly summoned to his official apartment for an evening’s entertainment.
The phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do,” springs inevitably to mind.
Lord Sewel, who was until now earning £84,525 per annum as chairman of the Lords’ Privileges and Conduct Committee—has resigned from his position and now faces a police inquiry. He paid the call girls by cheque, according to the Sun.
He spends much of his time in the footage obtained by the Sun bemoaning the paucity of his remuneration.
The peer, who is based in Aberdeen, Scotland, said, “When the House is sitting, three days a week, I get an allowance of £200. Out of that it sits for about 120 days a year. So that’s £24,000, isn’t it? So it’s only £600 a week. You’re living on £50 a day.
“The trouble is these f**king s**ts who live in London and don’t have to pay rent.
“They’ve already got a house in London. They get exactly the same so it’s free money to them.
“They do f**k-all work in the Lords, they’re picking up their £200.”
As a line of what appears to be cocaine lies on the table, one of the girls asks if his rent is paid for him, and Sewel replies: “No, I pay for it out of my allowance.
“I don’t have to provide any receipts or anything for the £200. The fact I turn up means I get £200 a day.
“I could spend it on whatever I want to. I do spend it on wine and different things.”
“£200, to pay for lunch?” the woman says, aghast.
“It’s not lunch, lovie, darling, it’s paying for this,” he says, producing what appears to be a lump of cocaine wrapped in blue plastic from its hiding place in the top of a soda bottle.
Just when it seemed the scandal couldn’t get any worse, the Sun also claims that the Lord made deeply offensive remarks about Asian women, allegedly saying, “We could do with some nice little young Asian lady tonight, I would’ve thought. But never mind.”
One of the women asks him: “What is your deal with the Asian ladies? What do you like about them?”
According to the Sun, Sewel replies: “Well, I don’t know. As I go around London on the Tube from time to time, I think that they’re slim. Many of them are quite attractive, I thought. Not that I’ve ever sort of dabbled...They sort of look innocent but you know they’re whores…That’s a really nice combination, isn’t it?”
The new scandal comes just months after the police opened a criminal enquiry into expenses fraud at the House of Lords whereby peers were “clocking in” to claim a £300 daily attendance allowance despite spending minutes inside.
Lords Speaker Baroness D’Souza said Sunday that Sewel had quit as chairman of the Lords privileges and conduct committee in the wake of the Sun on Sunday’s story.
Baroness D’Souza said Sewel’s behavior was “shocking and unacceptable” and that she was referring him to the police.
“Lord Sewel has this morning resigned as chairman of committees. The House of Lords will continue to uphold standards in public life and will not tolerate departure from these standards,” she said.
“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.”