Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Labour 'whistleblower' snubbed

The Falkirk seat is held by Eric Joyce, who resigned from the Labour Party and now represents the constituency as an independent

The Labour councillor who blew the whistle on claims of vote-rigging in the selection process for a general election candidate in Falkirk has been snubbed by the party.

Former Falkirk Council leader Linda Gow, who alerted the party to allegations against the trade union Unite, said she is "disappointed" not to be on the final shortlist.

Local party members will choose from Pam Duncan, Monica Lennon and Karen Whitefield on December 8.

Ms Gow said: "I am disappointed that I didn't get the opportunity to stand before local members for selection.

"However, I would like to thank those members who have expressed support for me and I wish the three very high-calibre candidates the very best."

The Falkirk seat is held by Eric Joyce, who resigned from the Labour Party and now represents the constituency as an independent.

Earlier this year, Unite was accused of signing its members up to the Falkirk Labour Party to ensure the union's favoured candidate, Karie Murphy, was selected as the next general election candidate.

The union was cleared of any wrongdoing in an internal inquiry by Labour but the local party was put under ''special measures'', which meant that the power to draw up the shortlist was taken away from it, and was conducted centrally.

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: "We are delighted that the Labour members of Falkirk will have three very talented women to pick from when they come together to select the candidate they want to represent their community.

"We stand ready to get fully behind our new candidate when she is selected and begin earning the trust of the people of Falkirk in the run-up to the 2015 general election."

Meanwhile, Police Scotland chief constable Sir Stephen House is looking into separate allegations against Unite concerning alleged intimidation of senior members of Ineos staff.

The union was involved in an industrial dispute with the Grangemouth refinery, which was first sparked by the vote-rigging allegations.

Police Scotland responded to a letter from Conservative MP Priti Patel in which the politician raised concerns that a "potential criminal offence" had been committed by union members.

The force said Sir Stephen was "looking into the matter" and would "provide a response in due course".

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