Drugs link to Labour inquiry

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The Independent Online
Friends of Gordon McMaster, the Paisley South MP who committed suicide last month, warned last night that the inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his death would be a "whitewash" unless it was widened to include Labour links with drug gangs in Glasgow.

The bile inside the Labour Party in Scotland began to spill out as Nick Brown, the Government Chief Whip, prepared to go north to begin interviewing some of those accused in Mr McMaster's suicide note of mounting a whispering campaign against him.

The Scottish National Party's chief executive, Mike Russell, said a Renfrewshire SNP councillor had been suspended for allegedly joining in the whispering campaign against Mr McMaster. But Mr Russell said Labour in Scotland was "being run as a one-party state". There was no suggestion that Lord Dixon, the former Labour deputy chief whip, or Tommy Graham, MP for Renfrewshire West, who were both named in the note, were implicated in the wider allegations.

Downing Street sources said it was hoped that the Chief Whip would have his report on the Prime Minister's desk in time for Tony Blair's return from holiday in 10 days' time.

But those who knew Mr McMaster said it would be a "whitewash" unless it probed the depths of the party in Scotland. "It could take years for the truth to come out," said one Labour MP. The pressure could force Mr Brown to recommend a full police investigation.

Government sources said there would be no fatal accident inquiry. Mr Blair was sent a copy of the suicide note in a dying request by Mr McMaster with a plea for it to be published, but it was passed to Mr Brown and there are no plans by ministers to bring it into the public domain.

Mr McMaster's agent, Joe Hill, said he was appalled by remarks by Lord (Don) Dixon. The latter said that he had told Mr McMaster he would not recommend him for promotion to his job as deputy chief whip because he believed he could not have stood the pressure. Lord Dixon said: "He was not particularly happy about it, but he did not show a great deal of emotion."

Lord Dixon said he wanted to clear his name, and had no knowledge why Mr McMaster should have named him.

Mr Graham, the other Labour MP named in the note, said in a local newspaper interview that Mr McMaster had had a "drink problem".

The Chief Whip was urged to widen the inquiry by Dr Norman Godman, the respected Labour MP for the nearby seat of Greenock and Inverclyde, at a meeting on Monday. The BBC reported that Dr Godman wanted it to include allegations of nepotism in Monklands, and of electoral corruption in Glasgow Govan, where the Labour MP Mohammed Sarwar has been suspended. Dr Godman is reported to want the inquiry to include "alleged links between Labour figures and the laundering of drug money".

Associates of Mr McMaster said he had complained about the pressure he was under from those close to gangs involved in the trade in temazepam.

His close friends confirmed there was a whispering campaign. He was accused of being gay, but those who knew him said he was not homosexual.

Scottish saga, page 6