Disgraced former Labour council leader Steven Purcell has emerged from self imposed exile and has admitted using cocaine.
The former Labour politician makes the admission in an interview with The Scottish Sun.
The interview confirms recent allegations of cocaine use and also confirms that drug enforcement officers were aware of Purcell’s habit. He also confirms that he was warned by the officers that he may have become a target for blackmail as a result of using the illegal drug.
Purcell told The Sun: “They said there might be a video of me using cocaine and that could be used to blackmail me.”
he added: “The last time I used it was a year ago, a few weeks before the police came to see me,”
Purcell claims that he then moved to alcohol in an attempt at coping with the pressures of running Scotland’s largest local authority.
Of his breakdown in the hours following the fundraising dinner attended by Gordon Brown; Purcell explained that he had: “steadied himself” for Brown’s visit and added: “I went up the road at the end (of the dinner) then started drinking again.”
This seems at odds with earlier claims from an unnamed Labour politician that Purcell became distressed at the event and was placed in a cab by guests to be driven home.
Purcell also reveals that he attended a morning meeting with Labour MSP’s on Friday 26 February, he then went home and started drinking in the afternoon. “By the Saturday I was contemplating suicide, I thought to myself ‘life isn’t worth living like this’.”
However Mr Purcell denied that he had attempted suicide after checking himself into the Castle Craigs rehab clinic in the Borders. Purcell claims to have merely fell through some ice and ended up in the water.
Mr Purcell also revealed that he fled to Australia after resigning as leader and councillor – he is now in Ireland planning to return to Scotland.
The revelations from the disgraced former Labour group leader will fuel calls for an independent investigation into decisions that were taken at a time when, by his own admission, Purcell was either using cocaine or heavily reliant on alcohol.
The revelations will also increase the pressure on Gordon Brown to reveal whether allegations that a Downing Street staffer discussed Purcell in a conference call from number 10 are true.
Despite having being asked twelve days ago to clarify what Downing Street knew of Purcell in 2008 – and promising to look into the matter – the PM still insisted that he knew nothing about the claims when questioned in Glasgow at the weekend.
Meanwhile it emerged at the weekend that another company who have donated to the Labour party was a recipient of contracts from controversial City Building, the arms length company set up by Purcell.
AS Scaffolding Ltd were last year awarded a lucrative contract by City Building, however a City Building spokesman refused to reveal what the deal was worth citing “commercial confidentiality”.
AS Scaffolding also donated £3,480 to Labour MSP Andy Kerr’s failed campaign to become Holyrood Labour leader. The firm also paid for Mr Kerr’s trip to the 2008 Uefa Cup Final in Manchester, which cost around £1,500.
The boss of the firm appeared last year in a BBC politics programme where he was portrayed as a ‘typical Glasgow businessman’ speaking out against Scottish independence.
James Dornan, the SNP group leader on Glasgow City Council, said: “Every day brings more revelations about City Building.
“What is needed here is a root-and-branch investigation into these contracts, and changes at the top of City Building. It is time for the council to come clean about events over the last few years.”