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Ethics leader Lord Sewel resigns after snorting cocaine off prostitute’s breasts

The British peer in charge of parliamentary ethics quit the House of Lords Tuesday after photos showed him apparently wearing an orange bra and snorting cocaine off a prostitute’s breasts.

Lord John Sewel, 69, said: “I want to apologize for the pain and embarrassment I have caused.”

Scotland Yard launched an investigation and raided Sewel’s home near parliament Monday night.

Sewel, who’s married, was formerly senior vice principal of Aberdeen University in Scotland.

After serving as a government under-secretary, in 2012 he received a lifetime appointment to the House of Lords. He made about $130,000 as chairman of the Lords’ privileges and conduct committee.

“I have today written to the clerk of the parliaments terminating my membership of the House of Lords,” Sewel said in a statement Tuesday.

The Sun tabloid quoted sex workers that Sewel snorted up to eight lines of cocaine during one of their sessions.

“He slipped into a woman’s blue dress and applied lipstick and eyeliner to engage in depraved sex games too obscene to report in a family newspaper,” the tabloid said.

One picture in the Sun showed him wearing a prostitute’s orange bra at a sex party.

In the House of Lords, Sewel had responsibility for dealing with ethics violations.

He introduced a new system to eject members permanently who breached the code of conduct.

Under the old system, only the monarch could throw them out.

His new seven-point code of conduct required peers to “always act on their personal honor” and to “show selflessness, integrity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.”

Over the past year, Sewel sanctioned three Lords who breached the code, the Sun said.


Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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  1. The conduct of Mr. Sewel was unseemly at best for a man of his stature in government, but unlike many who engage in conduct at least as egregious, he still possessed sufficient character, though he might have been late in manifesting it, to resign. Would that we were all able to confess our unseemly conduct and accept responsibility for it. Would he have confessed had he not been outed? We cannot be certain of the answer to that question, but we can imagine his life has now changed forever. We all have skeletons in our closets to a greater or lesser degree. May we all modify our behavior to avoid the shame we carry privately or which might ultimately come to be common knowledge.

  2. Dear Lord!

    It's a "Gotcha!" by the Yard who … borrowing a line from the Bard … "called your number" … old Peerless Sewel.

    "Methinks thou dost protest too much!" – Shakespeare

    Contemplating the firefighter who turns arsonist, we often wonder how many different agendas other lords of regulation and prosecution are following? More specifically, how often have our own regulators and prosecutors "bent" their charters on behalf of a political (not to mention perverse) exigency or two? We argue they "bend" too often that we know about and far more often than we are aware.

    Finally, at considerable risk of getting "crosswise" with a burgeoning, compliance, cottage industry, yet based on observation and experience, I sense all around a "rush to regulation" and "judgement."

    "Beware … the Ides of March are upon us!"

    s/ The Ole' Buzzard

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