Labour split over ‘corruption’ claim

Councillor Jim Logue, right, with depute leader Councillor Paul Kelly, has pledged to investigate corruption claims.

Councillor Jim Logue, right, with depute leader Councillor Paul Kelly, has pledged to investigate corruption claims.

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Deep divisions within Labour have emerged again after an investigation began into alleged corruption at North Lanarkshire Council.

Claims that councillors and officials benefitted when authority contracts were being awarded to companies have been made in an anonymous letter.

Council leader Jim Logue said the “detailed allegations, if true, are extremely serious”.

He added: “An investigation, led by the council’s internal audit team, is already underway. Should the auditors find anything which substantiates these allegations that evidence will immediately be handed over to police.

“It is essential the people of North Lanarkshire have full confidence in the way the council conducts its business and I am determined that we are transparent at all times.”

However, the decision by Councillor Logue to go public with the allegations was slammed by a Labour colleague who branded it “unprofessional”.

The councillor, who claimed many Labour members are unhappy at the way the situation has been handled, said: “I’m disgusted. It’s crazy to give an anonymous letter such credence. People’s credibility is being sullied by an unnamed individual without any investigation having been done.”

The councillor said the position was in stark contrast to what happened two years ago when a member of staff made detailed allegations of misconduct within NL Leisure, the body which runs sports facilities for the council.

The council dismissed those as “unsubstantiated and defamatory” and said it wasn’t policy to comment on anonymous claims.

The Labour councillor who spoke to the Motherwell Times, said any probe into the corruption claims should be carried out by an external agency and not “inhouse”.

Councillor Logue has had a difficult start to his term as council leader after succeeding Jim McCabe. Last month four senior Labour councillors quit after his reshuffle of committee chairmen.

A senior council source supportive of the leader said: “There was a great deal of animosity towards Jim Logue and Paul Kelly becoming the new leadership team by certain individuals. This was because people knew they would be very pro active in dealing with any serious allegations regarding the council and no stone would be left unturned.

“Staff are no longer afraid to come forward with concerns.”