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The BBC's Guto Harri
"This is the second time that he has passed out at work"
 real 28k

Jane Faure-Brac, British Satellite News
"He just slumped over then fell on the floor"
 real 28k

Saturday, 31 March, 2001, 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
Eight weeks sick leave for Vaz
Keith Vaz
Vaz intends to take time off work
Europe Minister Keith Vaz is to take eight weeks off work after being discharged from hospital.

He spent two days in St Thomas' Hospital, London, where he underwent tests on his heart, although the Foreign Office has refused to say whether or not he suffered a heart attack.

Mr Vaz passed out after finishing a television interview in his office on Thursday.

The 44-year-old MP has been under intense pressure in recent months with a series of parliamentary investigations into his business affairs.


He has been advised by his consultant to take a period of eight weeks off work for rest and rehabilitation.

Foreign Office spokesman
In a statement on Saturday, the Foreign Office said: "He will require continuing medical attention and has been advised by his consultant to take a period of eight weeks off work for rest and rehabilitation.

"He will have a medical re-evaluation in three weeks time.

"Having already cleared his diary to coincide with his children's school holidays, he intends to act on the medical advice given."

'Grateful'

Mr Vaz was "immensely grateful" to both staff at the hospital and for the ambulance crew's quick action.

He recovered consciousness before the ambulance arrived but was told to go for a check-up.

It was his second bout of ill-health in three months - he was taken to St Thomas' on 30 January when he suffered chest pains.

The minister had been giving an interview on Thursday connected with visas in his office in Whitehall.

Reporter Jane Faure-Brac, from the Foreign Office-funded British Satellite News, said that Mr Vaz looked unwell and she offered to stop filming to allow him to take a break.

After a few minutes he returned but after the interview was completed he collapsed.

Ambulance called

Ms Faure-Brac said she loosened Mr Vaz's tie and put him into the recovery position.

"He was sitting on the edge of his chair and he suddenly slumped and fell over on to the floor," Ms Faure-Brac told BBC News Online.

Jane Faure-Brac
Journalist Jane Faure-Brac gave Mr Vaz first-aid
"From the moment he came into the room he wasn't himself.

"He wasn't very focussed - there were big pauses between his answers and normally he is very well briefed."

Ms Faure-Brac said the minister came round after a few minutes but seemed disorientated.

Backed by Blair

Earlier this month, Mr Vaz was severely criticised by the parliamentary standards commissioner Elizabeth Filkin for refusing to answer questions about his financial relationship with businessmen in his Leicester East constituency.


He was sitting on the edge of his chair and he suddenly slumped and fell over on to the floor

Jane Faure-Brac

One complaint, that he failed to declare a donation from a lawyer who he recommended for a peerage, was upheld by the parliamentary standards committee.

The Conservatives have made repeated calls for his resignation saying he was unfit to represent the UK abroad but Downing Street had insisted he has been cleared of all serious allegations.

A solicitor turned barrister, Mr Vaz has been a prominent member of the Asian community since his election to parliament in 1987.

He came under further pressure for failing to visit the Balkans since he became minister with responsibility for the region in 1999.

The cross-party foreign affairs select committee said it was concerned about a lack of ministerial oversight of an area where the UK had devoted financial and military resources, and which was key to the whole stability of Europe.

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See also:

26 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Keith Vaz: Minister and networker
26 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Vaz defends his passport actions
13 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Vaz cleared but questions remain
28 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Vaz criticised over Balkans absence
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