Monklands orders corruption inquiry

LABOUR leaders on Monklands District Council last night announced an independent public inquiry into allegations of sectarianism, nepotism and political corruption that have dogged councillors and local Labour politicians, including the former party leader John Smith, for two years.

The surprise move came after the first meeting between the ruling Labour group on the council and Helen Liddell, the new MP for Monklands East, who last July won a narrow by-election victory in Mr Smith's former constituency 10 miles east of Glasgow.

In recent years Monklands councillors have been accused of sectarian discrimination in spending policies in favour of the mainly Catholic town of Coatbridge against its mainly Protestant neighbour Airdrie. There have also been claims of nepotistic recruitment practices to council jobs and political corruption. None of the allegations has been proven but the 'Monklandsgate' scandal proved a severe embarrassment to Mr Smith and Labour.

The issue dominated the by-election campaign during which Mrs Liddell took on the council, calling for a public explanation of its spending policies. On Monday, Mrs Liddell met Allan Stewart, the Scottish local government minister, and urged him to call a public inquiry. When he refused she persuaded councillors to order and pay for their own investigation.

Last night Jim Brooks, the council leader, said the council would fund the inquiry, which would conducted by a senior lawyer and take evidence in public. He was relieved, he said, that 'for the first time everything will be out in the open. For the past two years we have been the victims of vicious and unsubstantiated rumours and smears. The people who have made allegations against us will now have the chance to make those claims in public and we will be able to see those claims for what they are worth.'

Mr Brooks went on: 'At last we have the chance to get on with our lives and continue the important business of attracting investment which is vitally needed in this area, without being hampered by innuendo. The people deserve this inquiry and the council is happy to fund it.'

Mrs Liddell said the investigation marked 'the beginning of the end of the bad days for Monklands District Council'. She refused to say who would conduct the inquiry and declined to comment on suggestions that Mr Smith and the Labour Party should have called an inquiry sooner.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
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: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review