Councillor takes Labour to court over sacking

North Lanarkshire  Council's Motherwell HQ.
North Lanarkshire Council's Motherwell HQ.

A senior councillor is taking legal action against the Labour Party after he was sacked from an influential position.

Tommy Morgan says his reputation has been damaged over his dismissal as convener of North Lanarkshire Council’s audit and governance panel which acts as the authority’s financial watchdog.

The long-serving Airdrie councillor is said to have enraged his colleagues by questioning the council’s £30 million a year housing repair deal with contractor Mears.

The deal was re-negotiated recently at a cost of £12 million to the council after Mears complained the terms of the contract - awarded initially to another firm - were impossible to meet.

Labour group leader Jim McCabe said Councillor Morgan was sacked for an unrelated disciplinary matter, but the leader has since had to defend himself from claims that he is too close to Mears boss Willie Docherty. Councillor McCabe admits he is a good friend of Mr Docherty, but insists nothing should be read into that.

The council’s ruling Lavour group voted 16-14 to remove Councillor Morgan from his position.

Confirming he is asking for a judicial review of that decision, Councillor Morgan said this week: “The irregular and questionable procedures used to remove me from the convenership have caused damage to my political and personal reputation.

“My family has been put under severe stress and strain. My family name has been besmirched. I fully intend to pursue my case through the proper legal procedures.”

Councillor Morgan refused to comment on claims he had been sacked after a row over Labour’s decision to ditch a plan to merge Our Lady’s High School and Taylor High.

He told the Times & Speaker: “Due to the fact the matter is now going for a judicial review, I cannot comment further.”

Many Labour colleagues are furious at claims that Councillor Morgan was sacked over Mears.

One councillor said: “Nothing could be further from the truth. Action was taken following his behaviour at a Labour group meeting.

“Tommy was angry at the decision not to go ahead with the merger of Our Lady’s and Taylor which would have meant a new school at Ravenscraig which parents opposed.

“Tommy felt the Motherwell parents were getting special treatment, but his conduct was out of order and he wouldn’t apologise.”

Earlier this month the council’s SNP group leader, David Stocks, called for Labour to clear the air over the sacking, saying the issue ‘stinks’ and is damaging the council’s reputation.

See this week’s Times & Speaker, out now, for the latest on council equal pay and teacher cuts.