Uddingston and Bellshill SNP urged to sue over missing cash

Councillor David Baird
Councillor David Baird

Members of the troubled Uddingston and Bellshill SNP branch have been urged to take legal action against a councillor over missing funds.

And an auditor has asked why the police weren’t called in to investigate David Baird about £1,500 he raised for the party.

There were calls this week for Councillor Baird to quit the SNP as supporters of branch convener Richard Lyle said he had been vindicated in his long feud with the Mossend and Holytown councillor.

However, Councillor Baird maintains he is the victim of a smear campaign.

It’s nine months since the Times & Speaker revealed the branch had reported him to SNP headquarters over the missing cash.

Now, in his annual report, branch auditor Michael Clarkson has called on Councillor Baird to “surrender” £1,524 he raised from selling SNP merchandise last year.

Mr Clarkson warned: “If Councillor Baird wishes to avoid litigation to recover the amount owed he must return these funds and any items not sold to the branch immediately, and he will be reimbursed for his personal expenditure.

“Otherwise it is the recommendation of the auditors that further action must be taken immediately by the branch. This recommendation has also been made to party HQ.”

Mr Clarkson said he had questioned why, if fraud was suspected, the police were not to be alerted. However, he was told that party HQ wanted an internal investigation.

One angry branch member welcomed the auditor’s findings, saying: “David Baird should now resign from the SNP and his position as a councillor. He has portrayed himself as a victim, but this shows he is not suitable for public office.

“The report confirms what has been said all along, that funds belonging to the branch have been withheld. Richard Lyle has been vindicated.”

Councillor Baird insisted he has taken money and paperwork to party HQ, and accused opponents of a “smear job”

He said: “The auditor is hardly independent – he is a staunch ally of Richard Lyle.

“I have evidence to disprove the allegations against me. I won’t be standing down as I have done nothing wrong.”

Party HQ in Edinburgh said Councillor Baird had lodged funds with them “until a local dispute had been resolved”.

Mr Lyle, a Central Scotland list MSP, said: “This is an internal investigation and I cannot comment.”