Blair suspends councillors

Tony Blair, the Labour leader, suspended all the Labour councillors on Monklands council in Scotland yesterday in a move to minimise the party's embarrassment over charges of nepotism and sectarian bias.

His draconian action followed the publication on Monday of a report by Professor Robert Black QC into the employment practices and spending policy of the council near Edinburgh, which accused Labour councillors of employing their relatives and of spending more on mainly Roman Catholic Coatbridge than Protestant Airdrie.

Tom Sawyer, general secretary of the Labour Party, announced the suspension after John Major used the report against Mr Blair in the Commons: "Here with this report on Monklands we have a clear case of how Labour in office actually runs its own affairs

The Prime Minister challenged Mr Blair: "If you are so concerned about open government, will you indicate today that you will actually publish the earlier secret report held by the Labour Party into Monklands council?"

George Robertson, Labour's Scottish affairs spokesman, immediately wrote to the Prime Minister demanding, "as a matter of honour", that he retract his statement and "apologise to me and to the House". He said Labour had published its inquiry in 1993, and that he had no more unpublished information.

The 1993 report admitted that practices in the local Labour party and the district council laid Labour councillors open to criticism, but no action was taken against them. The area was represented by John Smith, the late Labour leader, and by Tom Clarke, then Labour's Scottish affairs spokesman.

Last year, under pressure from, among others, Helen Liddell, Mr Smith's successor as MP for Monklands West, the council asked Professor Black to conduct his inquiry. As a result of his report, some of the allegations have been referred to the Crown Office in Scotland for possible prosecution.

Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National Party, criticised Mr Blair for failing to suspend Jim Brooks, Monklands council leader, and several of his colleagues from the new North Lanarkshire council, elected in April, which takes over from Monklands next year. He is writing to Mr Blair to ask whether Labour leaders knew about the malpractices two years ago.

Mr Salmond also attacked Ian Lang, Secretary of State for Scotland, for failing to order an inquiry into the affair. "It suits the Conservatives to keep the scandal going," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration Engineer

£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: These refrigeration specialists...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Logistics and Supply Chain

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an operational role and...

Recruitment Genius: CNC Sheet Metal Worker / Fabricator

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working within the workshop of ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st / 2nd Line IT Support Engineer

£20000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist high tech compa...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral