Labour hands evidence of Falkirk ‘ballot-rigging’ by Unite to police

The selection row has sparked the worst crisis of Miliband's time as leader

Ed Miliband’s dispute with its biggest financial backer took a dramatic twist when Labour decided to hand over evidence of alleged ballot-rigging by Unite to the police.

As he tried to reassert his authority, a furious Mr Miliband was locked in a damaging war of words with Len McCluskey, the union’s left-wing leader. It is understood that some of the 100 members recruited by Unite in the Falkirk constituency in Scotland were asked to allow others to cast votes on their behalf.

The controversy erupted when Unite tried to install  Karie Murphy, office manager of the senior Labour figure Tom Watson, as Labour’s candidate in Falkirk at the 2015 election.  Mr Watson  resigned as Labour’s election campaign co-ordinator on Thursday. Ms Murphy and Stephen Deans, chairman of both Falkirk Labour Party and Unite in Scotland, were suspended by the party on the same day after Labour found evidence of malpractice. 

This did not emerge during Labour’s initial investigation into the Falkirk party but when Labour officials mounted a wider inquiry into a scheme allowing unions to pay the first-year subscriptions of members they recruited to the party. It has now been scrapped. A  Labour source said the scheme should have been used only to sign up members “legitimately, knowingly and willingly with no conditions attached.”

After taking advice from its solicitor, Labour  yesterday telephoned the  office of Scotland’s Procurator Fiscal to ask how to hand over its documentary evidence to the police.  This will be done shortly.

The Conservatives claimed Labour was panicked into this course  after learning that Henry Smith, a Tory MP, was about to ask the Scottish Police to investigate whether Unite had committed fraud in Falkirk.  Labour insisted its action had nothing to do with the Tories’ intervention.  Labour hopes its move will show the public  it  takes the allegations seriously.

During a round of TV interviews, Mr Miliband declared that he was “incredibly angry.” He said: “We had members being signed up without their knowledge, bad practice, malpractice and, frankly, instead of defending that kind of thing, Len McCluskey should be condemning it… [He] should be facing up to his responsibilities. He should not be defending the machine politics.”

The Unite leader hit back, accusing Mr Miliband of seeking  a “punch-up” with the unions. He said: "As far as Unite are concerned, we have done nothing wrong. We are being attacked mercilessly by the media. We've had Shadow Cabinet members saying that Unite has 'overstepped the mark'. What does that mean? We asked too many of our members to join the Labour Party. We should have told them that the Labour Party was full up perhaps? It is a nonsense."

Mr McCluskey said Unite  would co-operate with the police inquiry but warned that it would not bring the matter to an end, and demanded an independent investigation. A Labour aide replied: “He has got an independent inquiry - by the police.”

Grant Shapps, the Tory chairman, said: “If Ed Miliband is serious about stopping Len McCluskey’s takeover of the Labour Party, then he should freeze all 41 candidate selections that Unite admit it’s rigging, and refuse to take a single penny more of Len McCluskey’s cash.”

Suggested Topics
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
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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: Operations Manager / Section Manager - Airport Security

£40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a critical role within the secur...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45-55k

£20000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company is an established, ...

Recruitment Genius: E-Commerce Manager - Fashion Accessories

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Senior / Assistant Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Exciting new position available at an independ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn