Today the Sunday Times(£) reports on a cache of 1000 emails passed to the paper by Grangemouth refinery owners INEOS regarding union convener Stevie Deans and his involvement in the Falkirk Labour selection, and the subsequent party inquiry. The emails were obtained by lawyers acting for INEOS, and the Sunday Times reports that they have been passed to the police, whilst claiming that the union was guilty of “threats, intimidation and dirty tricks to thwart [Miliband's] inquiry into alleged electoral corruption”.
The Times report suggests that the party is “facing pressure to reopen the inquiry” – but they have not as yet seen any of the emails allegedly sent to and received by Deans (which are not in the public domain) only the reporting. When asked about the selection process in Falkirk this morning, a Labour spokesperson told us:
“Labour has acted swiftly and thoroughly to ensure there is a fair selection process. Karie Murphy has withdrawn and is no longer a candidate for this seat, the Union join scheme has been abolished and the constituency remains in special measures meaning the selection of the candidate will be overseen by Scottish Labour.”
Meanwhile Unite have hit back against what they called a “continuing media witch-hunt”:
“Unite was the subject of entirely unjustified attacks in relation to the Labour parliamentary selection in Falkirk. Both the Labour Party and Police Scotland investigated the issue and found that neither the law nor the Party’s rules were broken by the union. The email exchanges, apparently leaked by an employer for its own purposes, do nothing to change that. Unite’s own quite proper investigations into what had occured in Falkirk, which we were enjoined to undertake, were all conducted through the medium of external solicitors. The union had no direct contact with anyone involved in the Labour Party investigation. It is normal for people subject to investigations which at one time involved the police to avail themselves of legal assistance in preparing their responses. It is also normal for Mr Deans to have dealt with the Kanes, who are members of his family, and further normal for Unite to provide assistance to its members who had done nothing more dangerous than try to involve themselves in democratic public life. This continuing media witch-hunt demonstrates how threatening some elements in society continue to find such involvement by working people.”
Anyone who thought that the row around the Falkirk selection was over will be sorely disappointed, but it hasn’t gone away. And the party still has to select a candidate for the seat at some point, which risks opening the can of worms all over again…