GMB leader tried to interfere with ballot inquiry

The beleaguered leader of one of Britain's biggest unions tried to take charge of an inquiry into allegations of ballot-rigging levelled against his own supporters, according to a letter obtained by The Independent.

Kevin Curran, who was suspended on Tuesday as general secretary of the GMB general union, wrote to the clerk of the barrister appointed to investigate the alleged irregularities, declaring that the inquiry could only proceed under his instructions. The letter says: "I will be instructing [John] Hand QC in relation to his inquiry through solicitors. Pursuant to Rule 14 of the Constitution of the Union, I am the only person in the Union authorised to conduct the correspondence of the Union and to incur legal costs in matter such as this." Mr Curran also tried to widen the remit of the inquiry to include an investigation into his abilities to carry out his mandate and into the structure of the organisation.

On Tuesday the union's national executive accused the GMB leader of trying to interfere and asked for an apology. Mr Curran refused, turned down the option of leave and was suspended until after the inquiry.

It is alleged that during the general secretary elections, Mr Curran's supporters filled in ballot papers sent to members who had either died, left the union or failed to pay their subscriptions. The general secretary's letter to Mr Hand's clerk said allegations of impropriety were "utterly unfounded".

A friend of Mr Curran said he was entirely within his rights to send the letter: "Clearly he is in a difficult position but he did not say anything inappropriate."

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