A number of British MPs have been accused of using official parliamentary trips abroad to engage in “sex tourism”.
Parliamentarians on trips reportedly “asked for directions to the nearest brothel”, hired sex workers, and failed to turn up at meetings after drinking heavily on nights out.
The accusations came to light after an investigation by the POLITICO website into the activities of All Party Parliamentary Groups or APPGs – some of which organise foreign trips.
APPGs are parliamentary groups devoted to a specific issue, but over 130 are dedicated to interest in a particular foreign country.
These country-specific APPGs often arrange lavish visits to host nations for their members, sometimes with funding from those countries or associated organisations.
The website spoke to MPs, peers and diplomatic and parliamentary officials who went on some of these trips.
One parliamentarian claimed that a former Conservative MP, who is now a member of the House of Lords, asked for directions to the nearest brothel while on a visit to south east Asia.
And another Tory MP and former minister is alleged to have regularly stayed on after the MPs’ delegation returned to the UK in order to pursue an “interest in [local] women”.
“He showed an interest in pretty young girls,” one colleague told the website. “He routinely stayed on after these visits and linked up with young women in the place in question.”
Meanwhile, a senior Labour MP is said to have showed a fondness for “Russian girls”. It is claimed that local officials did not intervene because they were worried about upsetting the delegation.
APPGs are allowed to use parliamentary premises for meetings and to adopt parliamentary branding, but are not official parliamentary bodies. They run largely unregulated.
They are also used for lobbying by commercial and other interests. Earlier this year the chair of the standards committee asked for the power to shut down APPGs where there was a clear conflict of interest.
That call came after an investigation by the OpenDemocracy website found that the 775 groups received a total of £13 million from private companies since 2018.
Companies backing such groups include private healthcare firms, arms companies, and tech giants – all keen to have influence in Westminster.