Ken Livingstone yesterday defended Labour MP Keith Vaz by saying that journalists covering Labour Party conferences had used prostitutes.
Vaz told BBC journalist Victoria Derbyshire: “I think someone’s private life should be private.”
Vaz resigned from his job as chairman of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday after the Sunday Mirror revealed that the married MP had paid male prostitutes for sex.
Livingstone said: “I regret hearing that The Sunday Mirror decided that this is more important than serious issues such as the economy.
“I can recall being at Labour Party conferences and watching journalists there going up to hotel hotel rooms with prostitutes they had picked up from the streets.
“All across our society there are people who pay for sex. I don’t approve of that, I don’t do it myself – but I don’t think it’s illegal.”
The former London mayor also denied that the revelations created a conflict of interest for Vaz.
He said: “If it turns out to be true and he has paid for sex I don’t think that stops him conducting an inquiry into prostitution.”
The Mirror yesterday published further transcripts from the secretly-recorded encounter between Vaz and two male prostitutes one of his London flats.
The paper said that the transcripts proved that Vaz was “in control” of the situation, and was not “set up”.