Labour will discipline two Falkirk union ‘vote-riggers’ despite lack of evidence, as Unite calls for reinstatement

Party will move against the pair despite police finding no grounds for criminal investigation

Political Editor

Labour has vowed to take urgent disciplinary action against two of its members over alleged vote-rigging in Falkirk by Britain’s biggest trade union even though the police decided there were no grounds for a criminal investigation.

The ruling by Scottish Police was a setback to Ed Miliband, who referred the controversy over selecting Labour’s parliamentary candidate to them earlier this month. A spokeswoman said: “Following a comprehensive review of all material submitted, Police Scotland has concluded there are insufficient grounds to support a criminal investigation at this time. However, should further information come to light this will be looked into.”

Labour officials were surprised by the verdict, as they believe a paper trail warranted a fraud inquiry. They suspect the police dropped the case because they found no evidence of financial gain – unlike in the investigations into MPs’ expenses – even though the winner of the selection contest would potentially land an MP’s salary of more than £66,000 a year.  Officials also think the police may have been reluctant to become embroiled in politics after the Metropolitan Police’s marathon inquiry into “cash for honours” under the Blair Government resulted in no charges being brought.

The allegations centre on claims that the union recruited members to the local party  – some without their knowledge – and paid their membership fees under a now-disbanded scheme approved by Labour.

Labour insisted that Stevie Deans, chairman of both Falkirk Labour Party  and Unite in Scotland, and Karie Murphy, the union’s favoured candidate, would remain suspended from the party. It said: “As a result of the police decision, we will now pursue disciplinary action as a matter of urgency. The internal Labour inquiry found there was enough evidence to concern us about membership recruitment in Falkirk. We will act on this swiftly and thoroughly, as we have done throughout this matter.”

The union  said: “Unite welcomes the police decision not to investigate the Falkirk selection, which appears to be based on an overdue application of common sense to the situation.  Unite reaffirms what it has always said – the union broke neither Labour Party rules nor the law in Falkirk. Those in the media who have smeared the union without evidence or justification should now hang their heads in shame.

“We would hope that Labour will now lift the suspensions of Stevie Deans and Karie Murphy, agree to an independent investigation into what happened in Falkirk, and restore full rights to the constituency party as soon as possible.”

Another independent inquiry will be launched into the affair. The office of the Information Commissioner has told the Conservative MP Jake Berry it will investigate his concerns about “the alleged purchase of multiple Labour Party memberships for Unite members living in the Falkirk constituency”.

Labour rejected Tory calls to publish its internal report on the selection contest. Grant Shapps, the Tory chairman, told Mr Miliband in a letter: “Following Police Scotland’s announcement that they will not be undertaking a criminal investigation into the Falkirk selection scandal, there is now no legal impediment to the publication of the Labour Party’s internal report.”

Accounts published today  by the Electoral Commission showed that union affiliation fees accounted for almost £8m of Labour’s £33m income in 2012. Labour’s figure was about £2.5m more than the combined income of the Tories (£24.2m) and Liberal Democrats (£6m). 

Labour’s membership dropped from 193,961 in 2010 to 187,537 last year. The number of Lib Dem members fell from 65,038 in 2010 to 42,501 last year, reflecting opposition to the decision to join the Tories in coalition.

The Tories do not reveal how many members they have. Their accounts show that income from membership fees fell to £747,000 last year, down from £863,000 the previous year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory