Secret tape points to Monklands' 'mafia'

UNDER a coat of arms bearing the motto 'Ever Watchful', councillors met in Monklands town hall last week to discuss treachery. A 'guttersnipe council member' had insulted a senior official by secretly tape recording his reaction to a politically embarrassing sacking.

The 'traitor', Councillor Brian Brady, smiled as Labour colleagues urged him to resign. Twenty-four hours earlier, the recording Mr Brady had made was heard at an industrial tribunal.

The tape and the tribunal are the latest episode in a bitter struggle in Monklands, which has embarrassed John Smith, the Labour leader, whose constituency lies in the area near Glasgow. For two years, council leaders - dubbed the 'Monklands Mafia' - have failed to rebut allegations of corruption and sectarianism.

Mr Brady and disgruntled party workers accuse the leadership of nepotism, pointing out that 30 to 40 relatives of councillors, including the son and daughter of Jim Brooks, the council leader.

Figures showing that between 1989 and 1992 the council spent more than pounds 400 a head in the mainly Catholic town of Coatbridge and less than pounds 100 a head in mainly Protestant Airdrie, expose the leadership's sectarian bias, they claim.

In an interview with the Independent on Sunday, Mr Brooks said: 'The rebels are jealous of our success. They want to depose us and take over the council.'

He insisted that relatives on the payroll were 'well qualified and fairly appointed.' A decision to use green coloured forms for job applicants related to councillors and pink ones for the unemployed was 'purely designed to increase administrative efficiency'.

Records for the last 10 years, he said, showed that spending had been evenly distributed throughout the district.

But in the industrial tribunal in Glasgow on Wednesday, one of Mr Brooks's senior colleagues faced charges that the exchange Mr Brady had secretly tape-recorded revealed that the council had victimised 'troublesome' staff. A transcript of the conversation between Mr Brady and James Dempsey, director of leisure and recreation, revealed that Mr Dempsey was deeply concerned by a decision two years ago to sack a foreman called Tom McFarlane.

On the tape Mr Dempsey says: 'This man McFarlane . . . it's going to be a nasty one. He'll be going around to get support. I can't blame him . . . It's a totally embarrassing situation . . . I'll have to go to a tribunal. No way you could sit on a tribunal and tell a pack of lies . . . I expect that I'll be embarrassed . . . I've let the chief executive know I'm not happy about this.' He goes on to describe Mr McFarlane as 'a naughty boy'.

The tribunal heard that the decision to sack Mr McFarlane was taken by three councillors, including Mr Brooks, in a 'corridor meeting'. No minutes could be found.

Mr McFarlane, 52, alleges that Mr Dempsey's comments prove that he was sacked because, three months earlier, he had called for the resignation of a local Labour official who, he said, had manipulated a shortlist of candidates for local elections.

Councillors, he said, had hire and fire powers and 'if you didn't agree with them or their cronies in the local Labour party you were earmarked for the dole.'

Mr Dempsey told the tribunal he 'could not recall' why he had described Mr McFarlane as a naughty boy. He denied that the expression referred to criticism of Labour officials and insisted the decision to sack him, at a time when the council had a no-redundancy policy, was part of a 'rationalisation programme'.

The tribunal will give its ruling later this month.

(Photograph omitted)

Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

News
peopleActress speaks out against historic sexual assault claims, saying things have 'gone quite far now'

Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
Review: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
Guests enjoy food and cocktail parings by Chefs Jimmy Bannos, Jimmy Bannos Jr, Daniel Rose and Mindy Segal with mixologists Josh King and Alex Gara at Bounty & Barrel: A Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Dinner Series at Heaven on Seven on April 9, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.
news Sprinkle Palcohol 'on almost any dish' for 'an extra kick' firm says...
Arts & Entertainment
Charlotte Brontë, the English novelist, poet and the eldest of the three Bronte sisters who lived into adulthood, has been celebrated with a Google Doodle depicting her most famous novel, Jane Eyre.
arts + ents "Reader, they doodled her".

Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Arts & Entertainment
Oxegen in Ireland has been axed as promoters decide it is 'no longer viable'
arts + ents Promoters have axed the event as it is 'no longer viable in current form'
News
The troubled star is set to give fans the biggest insight into her life away from the headlines
people Star made the announcement during the final episode of the programme, entitled Lindsay
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Geography Teacher

£130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Geography Teacher Lo...

Do you want to work in Education?

£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energeti...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: SEN TAs, LSAs and Support Workers needed...

Private Client Senior Manager - Sheffield

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Sheffield office of this...

Day In a Page

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

The man who could have been champion of the world

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
Didn’t she do well?

Didn’t she do well?

Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
Before they were famous

Before they were famous

Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players