MPs suspended in sleaze row

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The Independent Online
Two Labour MPs were suspended from holding office yesterday by the party's ruling National Executive Committee, while a third repeated allegations that he had been threatened with being "kicked out" of the Parliamentary Party for opposing the Government's devolution plans.

Mohammad Sarwar, who is accused of trying to bribe an election rival, and Robert Wareing, who is accused of failing to declare an interest in a Serbian company, have denied the allegations against them.

Mr Sarwar was also suspended last night from the party whip in the House of Commons. Mr Wareing had the whip suspended last week.

Mr Sarwar's constituency party in Glasgow Govan will be suspended until October and will then be reopened with a greater number of branches than before. Both cases have been referred to Sir Gordon Downey, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

Police are continuing to look into claims that Mr Sarwar paid pounds 5,000 to a rival candidate, Badar Islam, to "ease off" his election campaign. Last night, Mr Sarwar issued a statement repeating that police would clear his name. "I am obviously saddened by the National Executive decision that I should be suspended from holding office within the Labour Party," he said.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Labour MP Llew Smith said he was "staggered" at the assurances given by Mr Blair that that Ron Davies, the Welsh Secretary, had not made the threat to withdraw the whip as the row threatened to escalate into a full-scale challenge by Labour MPs for the right to voice their own views.

Standing by his allegations on BBC Newsnight, Mr Smith said: "I will repeat them tomorrow and the day after and if it comes to a committee of standards and privileges, I would welcome the opportunity to repeat them again."

He added: "I had a meeting with Ron Davies who informed me if I campaigned against the Welsh Assembly, I would be kicked out of the Parliamentary Labour Party and if any member followed my lead, they would be expelled from the Labour Party.