Why Britain's Lord Sewell might leave office

John Buttifant Sewel temporarily stepped down from his post as deputy speaker of Britain's unelected House of Lords after The Sun on Sunday released a video and accused him of using cocaine and of hiring prostitutes.

(AP Photo/Alastair Grant, Pool)
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II waits for lawmakers to arrive before delivering the Queen's Speech in the House of Lords in the Palace of Westminster during the State Opening of Parliament in London on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. The speech outlines her governments legislative plans for the forthcoming parliamentary year and the laws and bills they hope to pass.

A senior British lord temporarily quit his post on Sunday and will face a police investigation after a tabloid newspaper released a video showing him semi-naked and snorting white powder through a banknote while partying with two women.

John Buttifant Sewel requested a leave of absence from his post as deputy speaker of Britain's unelected House of Lords after The Sun on Sunday released the footage and accused him of using cocaine and of hiring prostitutes.

Sewel, 69, who is married, could not be immediately reached for comment. Baroness Frances D'Souza, the upper chamber's speaker, said Sewel had said deputy speaker would step down while being investigated by police. She did not say if he confirmed or denied the allegations.

The imbroglio comes as Britain's politicians are still trying to regain voter trust after a far-reaching 2009 expenses scandal, and could fuel support for former fringe parties who have styled themselves as anti-establishment.

Ironically, Sewel's senior position in the House of Lords tasked him with ensuring fellow lords behaved properly. Packed with political appointees from all parties, its role is to scrutinize government legislation, but some politicians on the left believe it is an elitist anachronism and should be abolished.

Sewel's behavior was "shocking and unacceptable", D'Souza said in a statement.

"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."

The Sun on Sunday said Sewel had disgraced himself and parliament and said that Westminster, the seat of parliament, sometimes seemed as if it was "a giant cesspit of moral, financial and sexual corruption."

"His behavior reeks of the sense of entitlement so widespread in our political class," it wrote.

"The Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords should be a figure of respect and unimpeachable character. Not a low-life."

The scandal follows a press campaign aimed at John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, over what his critics say are his excessive expenses.

(Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Why Britain's Lord Sewell might leave office
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today