Calls for an independent investigation into the goings on at Scotland’s largest local authority have been thwarted after Liberal democrat councillors teamed up with Labour in a crucial vote.
The inquiry calls came after the shocking departure of Steven Purcell was followed by admissions of cocaine use and police visits to council chambers. These were compounded by a series of damaging revelations involving donations of public cash to Labour, ‘jobs for the boys’ and the awarding of lucrative contracts to Labour party donors.
A motion put forward by the SNP group had called for an independent inquiry into “the practices and recent decisions of the council” in order to restore public faith.
The SNP group leader James Dornan argued there was also an urgent need to examine how former leader Purcell held onto his job despite it being known he’d admitted taking cocaine and drinking heavily.
After the vote an angry Dornan said:
“The council do not want to be accused of a cover-up but this is how the decision might appear.
“We are disappointed and believe a proper investigation should begin as soon as possible.”
Lib Dem leader Christopher Mason proposed an amendment against an inquiry arguing that it would be a bad idea because of a lack of facts.
Mason added: “What we would get would be a fishing expedition, rambling from rumour to rumour, allegation to allegation.”
The SNP had demanded to know who knew Purcell was being interviewed by police about his drug taking last September? They also demanded to know why no action was taken to remove Purcell from his post after he admitted cocaine use.
In an interview with The Sun Purcell claimed colleagues at the council knew about it and “were happy for me to carry on with the strict condition it never happened again”.
The motion calling for an inquiry won the support of only 23 councillors; The Lib Dem move to block an inquiry was backed by 48 councillors.
Pressure was piling on PM Gordon Brown to come clean and explain exactly what Downing Street knew of Purcell’s troubles and when they became aware of them.
The PM has already been asked about an alleged number 10 telephone conference in 2008 that discussed Steven Purcell; he promised to investigate the matter. However, despite over two weeks having elapsed there is still no answers from Downing Street.