Monklands votes for corruption inquiry

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The Independent Online
MONKLANDS district council last night approved a proposal by its ruling Labour group to hold a public inquiry into longstanding allegations levelled at the local authority, of sectarianism, nepotism and political corruption, writes John Arlidge.

But councillors said the inquiry could go ahead only if the Government gave a guarantee that they would not be surcharged to meet the cost of the investigation.

At a special council meeting, members voted 17 to 3 to order a pounds 50,000 inquiry to be chaired by a senior lawyer 'to clear the cloud of smears that has hung over the authority'.

But after the authority's legal advisers warned that councillors risked being surcharged if they used council money to fund the investigation, members demanded that Ian Lang, the Secretary of State for Scotland, give an assurance that individuals would not be held liable for the cost.

Jim Brooks, the council leader, said he was calling Mr Lang's bluff. 'In the past, government ministers, including Mr Lang, have repeatedly called for an inquiry but they have consistently refused to order one. Now we . . . are offering to conduct and pay for one.

'If Mr Lang refuses to give us the assurances we seek, then he will be exposed as playing dirty politics with the lives and the reputation of the people of Monklands.'