Labour rocked as police announce investigation



The spectre of Steven Purcell returned to haunt Labour as it emerged that Strathclyde police are investigating claims of alleged corruption at Glasgow City Council.


It has been claimed that the disgraced former Glasgow Council leader used undue influence in order to help fellow Labour councillor Ruth Black win a £50,000 contract.


The probe follows the passing of potentially incriminating information to the police over the award of the running of a publicly funded lesbian and gay drop-in centre.  The old centre, formerly headed by Ruth Black, collapsed in April 2009 leaving behind debts of £300,000.


Black then set up a new organisation called ‘The Castro Glasgow’ and promptly bid for the right to run the new centre which receives a council grant of £50,000 per year.


When it was announced that Black’s organisation had been chosen over a rival bid from an already established organisation the SNP lodged a complaint.  A second committee with a Labour majority reviewed the decision but allowed it to stand.


A spokesman said: “Strathclyde Police are assessing the information available to them, therefore it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this stage.”


Meanwhile it has also emerged that Strathclyde police are to question Steven Purcell after he admitted using cocaine in a newspaper article.


Purcell admitted to having used the drug several times last year and claimed to have informed council colleagues of his past habit.  He also claimed they had agreed to allow him to remain as council leader if he promised stay away from the drug.


The news threatens to further damage Labour’s chaotic election campaign and will reignite the controversy over what knowledge senior Labour figures had of Purcell.


Gordon Brown has repeatedly dodged questions over whether a Downing Street staffer discussed Steven Purcell in a conference call in the summer of 2008.