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Latest News - November 2013

November 3, 2013
Revealed: Miliband's dossier on union plot
By: David Leppard

SECRET contents of the report on Labour’s vote-rigging scandal, which Ed Miliband refuses to publish, are revealed today by The Sunday Times.

They lay bare the shocking conclusions of the party’s inquiry into alleged electoral corruption in the brutal battle by the Unite union to seize control of the safe Labour seat of Falkirk.

Investigators saw indications of:

■ Forgery

■ Coercion

■ Trickery

■ Manipulation

Miliband has consistently refused to publish the report of the inquiry he ordered into claims that Unite attempted to rig the selection of Labour’s candidate for the Falkirk seat.

Last week The Sunday Times revealed how Miliband was forced to abandon the inquiry after a dirty tricks campaign by Unite apparently led key witnesses to withdraw their evidence.

He will now come under intense pressure to reopen the inquiry and publish its report.

Extracts from the report are contained in a Unite document that sets out its rejection of the allegations. It was in a cache of 1,000 emails to and from Stevie Deans, the chairman of Falkirk Labour party.

Deans was also, until last Monday, the Unite official at the centre of the union dispute that almost closed Scotland’s biggest oil refinery.

Unite and its boss, Len McCluskey, have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. The union’s document is deeply critical of the party investigation, challenging its factual basis and conclusions.

According to the Unite document, party investigators found “evidence that signatures were forged” and that “other documents” were also forged.

They also discovered potential new members being allegedly “coerced” or “badgered” into signing direct debit bank forms for joining Labour. There was evidence that at least eight people did not know what they were signing when they were “recruited”.

Investigators also said activists had been trying to pay the fees of new members “in other households” in breach of procedures.

The inquiry report states: “It is not unusual for complaints to be made about all aspects of the selection procedure but these complaints are of particular concern because of the number of members involved.”

It adds: “There is a line to be drawn between recruiting members who support the aims of the party and the recruitment of large numbers of paper members who have no wish to participate except at the behest of others in an attempt to manipulate party processes.”

It suggested there were problems with 112 applications or direct debit forms. In at least 14 cases “there is evidence of third party payments,” where the money was paid by someone other than the person signed up, which is against party procedure.

Unite rebuts all these claims in its document.

The report names 12 people from four local families whose applications were among those at the heart of the vote-rigging claims. At least two of the families are related to Deans, who is alleged to have signed up new members during a visit to a pub in October last year.

In one case, a new member is said to have signed his wife up but “forgot” to tell her. In another a wife signed her husband’s application form.

Police and party officials tried to probe the discrepancies this summer. But key witnesses refused to testify, while others retracted their vote-rigging claims. A Labour party official told Unite there had been “deliberate attempts to frustrate these interviews”, according to the Unite document.

Separately, an email from Karie Murphy, the hard-left candidate Unite was trying to parachute into Falkirk, reveals a secret system that gave Labour members colour-coded star ratings based on their perceived loyalty to Unite.

It gave red stars to those considered the union’s opponents, yellow stars to female members who might back it and double green stars to those the union had specifically “recruited for the selection”.

The star system was so secret that only a few at the top of the local union — nicknamed the “FK Brigade” in the emails — knew about it. The system was used to ballot members on whether they wanted an all-woman shortlist — a procedure that, if adopted, would knock out Murphy’s main male rival and enhance her chances of securing the nomination and a seat in parliament. “Given how sensitive this process is I would appreciate it if this stays between us and is not shared with others,” she wrote.

Labour said yesterday it would not comment on the contents of an internal report. Murphy did not respond to a request for comment.




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