Scottish Labour rocked as ‘Purcell’ councillor suspended

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The Scottish Labour party has been hit by fresh controversy after a Glasgow City Councillor, who was at the centre of the Stephen Purcell drugs and corruption allegations, was suspended after serious financial irregularities were uncovered at a gay and lesbian centre she runs.

Councillor Ruth Black was suspended following a meeting with Stephen Purcell’s replacement, Gordon Matheson, who took the decision after an investigation by the authority’s internal auditors.  The centre, called the Castro Club, and run jointly by Black and partner Jeanie McDougall, has had its £50,000 grant cancelled and now faces closure.


The Scottish Labour party has been hit by fresh controversy after a Glasgow City Councillor, who was at the centre of the Stephen Purcell drugs and corruption allegations, was suspended after serious financial irregularities were uncovered at a gay and lesbian centre she runs.

Councillor Ruth Black was suspended following a meeting with Stephen Purcell’s replacement, Gordon Matheson, who took the decision after an investigation by the authority’s internal auditors.  The centre, called the Castro Club, and run jointly by Black and partner Jeanie McDougall, has had its £50,000 grant cancelled and now faces closure.

The financial irregularities include non payment of NI contributions despite them having been deducted from staff wages, employing relatives against grant rules, non payment of buildings insurance, massive mobile phone bills, payments involving gaming machines and payments for a car – the centre has also run up debts of £44,000.

The Labour councillor was also involved in a previous incarnation of the club that saw it close leaving a trail of debts amounting to £300,000.  Despite this the Labour run council then awarded the new £50,000 contract to the same Labour councillor, who beat off bids from more experienced rivals, prompting allegations of cronyism.

It was claimed that Ruth Black had openly declared, prior to the announcement of the win, that Stephen Purcell was supporting her bid and that she expected to win.  Ruth Black has also faced questions from Strathclyde police over claims that she supplied drugs Mr Purcell’s inner circle, claims she denied.

The investigation into the Castro Club has also led to the resignation of board member Robert Tamburrini.  Mr Tamburrini is the highly paid head of North Glasgow Housing Association, earning over £98,000 a year; he is no stranger to controversy.  Mr Tamburrini was recently accused of using £38,000 of tenants money in order to fund a personal court action against a web site, it is also claimed that the housing association he heads has awarded contracts to firms who have links to well known Glasgow crime figures.

The Labour party have faced allegations that a culture of corruption and cronyism is rife within Scotland’s largest local authority after a series of revelations involving party donors, and lucrative board positions for party members, followed the departure of Mr Purcell.

Mr Purcell had been visited by officers from the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency over his drug use and had been warned that he may have left himself open to blackmail by gangsters.  Fellow Labour councillors have admitted to having been aware of the SCDEA visit. However calls for an independent investigation into the goings on at the council were thwarted after Liberal Democrat councillors teamed up with Labour in the crucial vote.

There have also been claims that senior Labour party officials were aware two years earlier that Mr Purcell had issues, yet failed to act.  Former PM Gordon Brown was asked in the House of Commons about a conference call that was said to have taken place in Downing Street where Mr Purcell’s problems were specifically discussed.

However, despite promising to investigate the claims no denial has ever been forthcoming.

Mr Purcell is currently believed to be undertaking work for businessmen who are Labour party donors.

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