There have been demands for a criminal investigation to be carried out after questions were raised over the relationship between a Labour party donor and a Scottish Labour MP.
The calls come after a BBC Scotland investigation questioned the connections between Labour’s East Kilbride MP Michael McCann and Labour donor and property developer James Kean.
BBC Reporter Marc Daly claims to have uncovered evidence suggesting the Labour donor may have benefitted from his links to Mr McCann and that the Labour politician failed to declare the relationship when he was a former Labour councillor serving on South Lanarkshire council planning committee. Mr Kean owns significant amounts of land in the area and planning applications submitted by him were supported by Mr McCann.
It is also alleged that the Labour politician intervened vigorously in a dispute between Mr Kean and a rival bidder over a supermarket application that stood to earn the victor around £18 million. Adam Ingram, the former defence minister and the man whom Mr McCann replaced, lodged a freedom of information request with Scottish Enterprise on whose land the supermarket is proposed.
The bid involving Mr Kean’s company, Kean Properties, was eventually granted planning permission in October 2010. Kean Properties is registered at the same address in nearby Cambuslang as Kilbride Construction – owned by Mr Kean’s brother Paul, also a Labour party donor.
SNP MSP for Central Scotland Alex Neil has called for a criminal investigation to be carried out saying the facts needed to be established.
Mr Neill said: “From what the BBC has uncovered there is a strong case here for a criminal investigation to establish whether anything untoward has actually happened. I’m not saying there has or there hasn’t been but an investigation could establish the facts for the people of South Lanarkshire.”
Fellow Central Scotland MSP Linda Fabiani said: “There are too many questions surrounding the Labour party and the planning process in South Lanarkshire. The BBC has already reported on Cllr Jim Docherty’s connections to Mr Kean and it seems there are now questions for Michael McCann to answer.”
Councillor Docherty was also the local Labour party’s business manager as well as a long-standing and influential member of the planning committee and chairman of the estates committee when last year it emerged that had he purchased a house from Mr Kean for £320,000 in the same street as the millionaire party donor.
This latest episode involving South Lanarkshire Labour and alleged helpful relationships with party donors is the latest in a long running series of revelations. In June 2009, Kean Properties made a successful application to convert a shop unit in East Kilbride into a restaurant and takeaway, despite it contravening a local plan.
At the planning meeting, one Graham Scott, the committee chairman spoke in favour of the application. Scott is also the local Labour party secretary and was Michael McCann’s election agent, responsible for raising funds from donors, including James Kean.
According to an article in the Times newspaper last year the situation prompted one senior Labour figure to say: “This kind of thing has gone on for too long unchecked and it’s bringing the reputation of the party into disrepute. It’s becoming the talk of the town and if we’re to get support and confidence, we’re going to have to change the way we do business.”