Sarwar claims pounds 5,000 was a loan

The anger of Labour activists in Glasgow Govan started to boil over yesterday as their MP, Mohammad Sarwar, dug himself further into political controversy with an admission that he handed over pounds 5,000 to an election opponent.

Mr Sarwar spent the morning with his lawyer and a statement was issued in which he "vehemently denied" doing anything wrong. He intends pressing on with legal action against the News of the World for alleging that money was paid as a bribe.

The millionaire MP is said to have told Labour whips on Sunday about the payment to Badar Islam, but insisted that it was loan to a Punjabi brother in financial difficulty and not "compensation" to Mr Islam for running a low-key campaign.

On Monday, when he dismissed the newspaper charge as "totally false", he made no mention of the payment. The plot was further muddied yesterday with a report that it was in part a gift to Mr Islam for a tip-off about a plot to plant drugs in Mr Sarwar's cash and carry warehouse.

The first contact between the Mr Sarwar and Mr Islam, who polled 319 votes under his Independent Labour badge, was not until 11 May and therefore could not have influenced the poll, according to party officials.

Following a call by Donald Dewar, Secretary of Sate for Scotland, the Strathclyde Fraud Squad added the bribery claim an investigation into late applications to the Govan electoral roll and allegations of malpractice by Sarwar supporters.

Today Nick Brown, the government Chief Whip, will report to Labour's National Executive on the affair, including his questioning of Mr Sarwar. Labour is conducting further inquiries but is unlikely to take any decision on the MP's fate until the police work is over. Mr Sarwar returned to London late yesterday.

While the circumstances surrounding the election of Britain's first Muslim MP are an embarrassment to Tony Blair and the London leadership, the effect on the febrile Govan constituency party could be catastrophic. For some local activists, Mr Sarwar's resignation and a by-election would be a relief, were it not for the fact that the SNP could win the seat.

"People in Govan Labour Party feel angry and let down," a party source told The Independent. After being split down the middle over the selection battle between Mr Sarwar and former MP Mike Watson, it was pulled together in the run-up to the election, largely by Margaret Curran who buried differences to become Mr Sarwar's agent.

"Margaret knocked heads together and ran a professional campaign. We won Govan despite the history of the selection row, allegations about the roll and a strong SNP challenge. Now all that has been lost and discredited," said the source.

Mr Islam, meanwhile, remained elusive. On top of the pounds 5,000 the entertainments promoter and gambler got from Mr Sarwar, he is also said to have collected a large sum from a tabloid newspaper.

The News of the World was yesterday sticking to its story and ready to defend itself in court. It claimed to have "further information" but would not comment on a suggestion that it has a tape of the Sarwar-Islam meeting requiring translation.

A job to humour Labour backbenchers

Labour MPs last night elected a former front-bench spokesman on home affairs, housing and Northern Ireland to the somewhat daunting task of keeping more than 300 government back-benchers happy and contented, writes Fran Abrams.

Clive Soley, the member for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush, will be the new chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, a job which now carries more importance than at any time in history.

Mr Soley was elected to the post by 229 votes, while his only challenger, Roger Stott, received 93 votes.

Mr Stott, the member for Wigan and also a former Northern Ireland spokesman, had stood on an apparently anti-leadership platform.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy
tvCall the Midwife Christmas Special
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there