1.Union Official then on to finer things
a. Michael McCann is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow since 2010. He is married to Tracy Anne McCann (nee Thomson), who is employed by him, on a salary of £35,000 as his office manager.
c. 1992–98. Scottish Officer, Civil and Public Services Association (CPSA). 1998–2008 Scottish Officer, Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS). 1999–2010 Elected Member, Labour Party, South Lanarkshire Council. 1999–2003 (Vice-Chair: E Kilbride Area Committee. 2003–07 Social Work Resources. 2007–10 Depute Leader, South Lanarkshire Council.
2. December 2010; Press Complaints Commission
a. Mr Michael McCann MP complained to the Press Complaints Commission that a letter headlined “A claim too far from our MP”, published in the East Kilbride News on 8 December, was inaccurate and misleading in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) and represented harassment in breach of Clause 4 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code.
b. The anonymous letter – attributed to an “East Kilbride taxpayer” – criticised the complainant on the topic of his latest expenses, stating that his “first few months in office have cost the taxpayer more than almost every other MP in Scotland”.
c. The complainant said that this claim was incorrect and had been presented as fact. He also said that the criticism had appeared in the same edition of the newspaper as its own report on the issue, making much the same points. He said that the letter appeared to have been written in response to the article, and did not believe that the letter had been sent independently by a member of the public.
d. The newspaper said that the letter had been received by email on 3 December, and provided a redacted copy of it. The writer of the letter had asked for their name to be withheld.
e. A number of the points raised by the author had been previously highlighted in the public domain, and it had not been in touch with the individual before publication. It had chosen not to censor the opinion of the letter writer, which had been clearly presented.
Adjudication: Not Upheld
f. The Commission was not in a position to determine the provenance of the letter, which had been submitted by email. It accepted that the letter had echoed many of the points in the report, but noted that the IPSA figures had been made publicly available on 2 December, and the overall amount of the complainant’s claims (and individual claims such as a £2 parking charge) had been discussed in other newspapers.
g. Overall, the Commission was satisfied that readers would have recognised that the letter represented a reader’s appraisal of the figures which had been released. No inaccuracy could be established on this point and there was no breach of Clause 1.
i. In addition, the Commission had previously ruled that Clause 4 “relates to physical harassment of individuals by journalists and/or photographers in the news gathering process”. A letter of criticism about a local MP published by the newspaper would not raise an issue under this Clause of the Code. http://www.pcc.org.uk/cases/adjudicated.html?article=NjkzMQ==
3. February 2011; Labour MP’s friendship prompts council planning concern
a.There has been a demand for a criminal investigation into the planning process of one of Scotland’s biggest councils after a BBC investigation revealed relationships between a millionaire developer and senior politicians.
b. The investigation reveals allegations that Michael McCann, the new Labour MP for East Kilbride, Strathhaven and Lesmahagow, has had an undeclared relationship with local property tycoon and Labour donor James Kean.
c. Mr McCann did not declare a relationship whilst he was a councillor, serving on the planning and estates committees in South Lanarkshire. During Mr McCann’s tenure numerous applications related to Mr Kean came before committee.
d. The BBC also learned that as an MP, Mr McCann vigorously intervened in a supermarket planning dispute, from which Mr Kean could end up making millions of pounds. The MP wrote a letter detailing some 33 questions.
e. This follows a BBC investigation last year which revealed that Mr Kean was godfather to local Labour councillor Jim Docherty’s child. Mr Docherty, an influential member of the planning and estates committee, has never declared this relationship, despite supporting dozens of Mr Kean’s proposals at committee.
f. SNP MSP Alex Neil has called for a criminal investigation into South Lanarkshire’s planning process. He said: “Very clearly there are legitimate questions to be asked and answered, and my view is, there is enough information made available by the BBC that there is a strong case for a criminal investigation, to establish whether anything untoward has actually happened. “I’m not saying there has or hasn’t, but I think to clear the air and make sure the system is above board in South Lanarkshire, there needs to be a criminal investigation to establish facts.” Very clearly there are legitimate questions to be asked and answered, and my view is, there is enough information made available by the BBC that there is a strong case for a criminal investigation, to establish whether anything untoward has actually happened”
g. Mr Kean owns large tranches of land in South Lanarkshire, mainly in East Kilbride. He is a longstanding Labour supporter, and has made, alongside his brother, donations totalling more than £5,000 to the East Kilbride Labour branch and to the Scottish Labour party.
h. The BBC understands he has been an associate of Mr McCann’s for at least six years. Mr McCann won a bitterly fought election campaign in May last year.
i. The BBC understands he held his late night election victory party at Legends Bar, in East Kilbride village, a building owned by Mr Kean.
j. The BBC has also learned that Mr McCann’s daughter stables her horse on Mr Kean’s farm. BBC Scotland asked Mr McCann what the financial arrangements for the stabling of the horse were, but he declined to answer.
k. There is no mention of it on his parliamentary register of member’s interests. As a councillor, Mr McCann supported numerous applications from Mr Kean’s companies as they came through committee, never declaring an interest.
l. Eddie McAvoy, leader of the council, has confirmed to the BBC that Mr Kean and Mr McCann go “back a long time” but said it was up to an individual councillor to decide whether a relationship should be declared.
m. Mr McCann’s interest in applications involving Mr Kean didn’t stop when he left his job as a councillor. Under Freedom of Information, the BBC has obtained a copy of a letter he wrote to Scottish Enterprise (SE) in September last year. It indicates a forensic interest in SE’s proposal to sell a piece of industrial land at West Mains Road, East Kilbride, to Asda, who want to build a supermarket.
n. SE’s proposal is going head-to-head with another supermarket application, involving Tesco, who wanted to build on nearby Peel Park, much of which is owned by Mr Kean. If successful, the land owned by Mr Kean and other companies linked to him could be worth up to £20m.
o. The Kean-related bid was granted planning permission in October 2010. The developer behind the Asda bid, Dawn Developments, has taken the matter to judicial review, alleging the Tesco bid was given an unfair advantage by South Lanarkshire Council.
p. Mr Neil said: “Given the apparent relationship over a number of years between Mr McCann and Mr Kean, I think there is a case for the Parliamentary Standard’s Commissioner in London investigating this case as to why Mr McCann is pursuing this matter. “There might be perfectly legitimate reasons for him doing so, but I think there is a case for investigation to establish whether he is doing so in his role as a member of parliament, using that role and the powers it gives you legitimately, or whether he is abusing his power.”
q. Mr McCann refused to speak to his local newspaper, the East Kilbride News, which, during a tense election campaign, published questions from opponents about his relationship with Mr Kean.
r. Mr McCann does, however, write a column for the rival free-sheet, the EK Mail, which rents its office space from Mr Kean. Mr Kean is one of the paper’s significant shareholders.
s. Mr McCann accused the BBC of peddling “outrageous smears”. In a statement, he said: “This is a rehash of a smear story that appeared during the general election campaign and is simply untrue. “BBC Scotland has made several unsubstantiated and false allegations, some of which originate from a Tory political opponent and journalist I defeated at the general election.
t. McCann’s daughter stables her horse on Mr Kean’s farm “Others are linked to an ongoing court case on a planning matter with which I have no involvement, but I am therefore prevented from discussing these outrageous smears in public until the legal process has ended.
u. During my time as an elected member of South Lanarkshire Council’s planning committee, I never once voted against a recommendation made by officers, I complied at all times with rules rightly imposed upon councillors and I therefore reject any allegation of impropriety whatsoever. “[The BBC’s] claim that I have a relationship with Mr Kean is wildly exaggerated.”
v. Mr Kean’s lawyer said his client “vigorously denies any wrongdoing in connection with securing any planning permission from any planning authority”. He also pointed to a report commissioned by Mr Kean and carried out by Mackay Planning, which analysed 50 of his planning applications and concluded that all had been “dealt following the correct procedures and there is no indication of any preferential treatment or maladministration.
w. A spokesman for South Lanarkshire Council said: “If the BBC is in possession of evidence that shows that any member of the council or employee acted in a way that was illegal, the council asks that this is provided to it as soon as possible, or, if appropriate, to the police. “All decisions on applications for planning consent must be taken solely on planning merits, and councillors who sit on the planning committee have received appropriate training in this aspect.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-12559916 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10478359
4. February 2011; Investigation by BBC Newsnight – murky goings on in East Kilbride Labour Party. U-Tube video
a. Nothing surprising to anyone who has lived in the West of Scotland. You only have to look around at the strange amount of developments that have appeared on what was supposed to be green belt land. I’m sure that a young, hungry journalist could uncover many, many cases of corruption involving planning applications and brown envelopes stuffed with cash changing hands. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1kwgkDaSsk
5. February 2011; Labour split deepens as Michael McCann blasts Lamont’s bid to devolve tax powers
a. Scottish Labour divisions on more tax powers for Holyrood have deepened after it emerged that the next chairman of the party’s MPs blasted the plans as “weak” and “not serious politics Michael McCann also said MPs “weren’t consulted” about the devolution commission proposal to give the Scottish Parliament control of income tax and insisted there were “serious questions” about how policy is made in Scotland.
6. November 2012; Waging War on Corruption – Inside the Movement Fighting the Abuse of Power
a. Michael McCann is well respected member of the right wing Henry Jackson Society. and organises presentation and discussion meetings in Westminster. He invited Frank Vogl, co-founder of Transparency International and a distinguished journalist and financial advisor to outline the main thesis of his new book, arguing that it is time to convert discussion about the prospects of curbing graft and bribery from one of skepticism to one of cautious optimism and hope. http://henryjacksonsociety.org/2012/11/21/waging-war-on-corruption-inside-the-movement-fighting-the-abuse-of-power/
7. January 2013: Israel’s advocates – and critical friends. Groups and individuals who are countering messages of hatred and delegitimisation.
a. A debate was held in the House of Commons to discuss how best to promote renewed negotiations and a two state solution. This was jointly organised by Labour Friends of Israel and We Believe in Israel. The debate was chaired by LFI Vice Chair Michael McCann MP, a member of the International Development Select Committee.
b. Concluding the debate, Michael McCann spoke of his “heartening” experience meeting with schoolchildren in southern Israel during a 2011 LFI delegation. He said that the desire of the children for peace with their neighbours, despite living under the perpetual threat of rocket fire, gave real “hope for the future”. http://hurryupharry.org/2013/01/18/israels-advocates-and-critical-friends/
8. February 2013; How Scottish MPs Voted on Same Sex Marriage
a. The House of Commons yesterday voted by 400 to 175 in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at its second reading. Michael McCann voted against the motion. http://blog.scottishelections.org.uk/2013/02/how-scottish-mps-voted-on-same-sex.html
b. He said: “Whilst civil partnership legislation unequivocally broke the back of unlawful discrimination this Bill doesn’t end any discrimination whatsoever and has the potential to open up a can of worms of Olympian magnitude. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/02/05/stephen-timms-mp-criticised-for-saying-marriage-was-primarily-for-procreation/
9. May 2013: Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) Vice Chair Michael McCann MP calls on the EU to proscribe Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation
a. Michael McCann MP led an important House of Commons debate calling for Hezbollah to be designated as a terrorist organisation by the EU, a policy which is supported by both Shadow Foreign Secretary Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP and Foreign Secretary William Hague.
10. January 2014: Michael McCann, Labour MP invites PM Cameron – not elected by Scots – to attack FM elected by Scots- U-Tube video
a. McCann talks nonsense – the native language of Scottish Labour MPs – on sterling, White Paper and Bank of England. Who can blame him – he’s facing redundancy in 2016, and worried that there won’t be a stampede of those offering alternative employment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAWxRJWEOZE
11. April 2014; Michael McCann verbally attacks audience. U-Tube video
a. Shame of Michael McCann MP who verbally attacked a woman in the audience at East Kilbride STUC hustings
12. September 2014; Independence referendum intimidation tactics anger East Kilbride MP and MSP
a. East Kilbride’s MP and MSP have this week condemned intimidation on both sides of the debate in the lead up to the independence referendum.
b. Both Michael McCann and Linda Fabiani have been subjected to offensive, and sometimes personal, abuse both in public and on social media. Better Together campaigner Mr McCann described the indy debate as “gutter” level and lambasted the “scandalous” personal attacks against him.
c. McCann added that in his 32-year career as a politician and trade union official, he has never experienced such levels of intimidation. He said: “There are always moments in campaigns when people can get a bit upset because they believe passionately in their views but I’ve never seen a debate descend into the gutter like this one.
d. People are making comments on social media that have nothing to do with the debate and some of those comments have been about my family. It’s nothing short of scandalous. “There has even been a prominent member of the East Kilbride Yes campaign following the No campaign around and videoing us. I must ask the question, why?”
e. Fabiani said: “I too have received annoying, and on occasion offensive, messages on social media. I refuse to engage with such correspondents, and have many times noted my abhorrence of such behaviour on either side of the debate. “I note the charge of intimidation by Yes campaigners. This is not something I have either witnessed or had relayed to me by any No activists.
f. A spokesman for Yes East Kilbride said: “Contrary to Mr McCann’s complacency, local Yes volunteers were so outraged at the actions of a prominent No campaigner that, in July, they lodged a formal complaint with Better Together. Further concerns about the actions of this same No campaigner were highlighted within the past week.
g. Perhaps Mr McCann should reflect on whether, as a senior elected representative, his own actions and language helped achieve this.” http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/ContentwatchIn/ContentwatchIn_News/independence-referendum-intimidation-tactics-anger-4163935
13. September 2014; Labour’s business manager in South Lanarkshire Jim Docherty condemned for tweets branding SNP supporters “rats”
a. Residents in East Kilbride call for councillor to stand down after accusing him of tweeting “offensive” remarks following No’s referendum victory Tweets by Labour Councillor Jim Docherty describing Yes campaigners as “rats” has sparked outrage.
b. The tweets on the East Kilbride South councillor’s private Twitter account following Thursday’s independence referendum have led to calls for his resignation.
c. This is not the first time Councillor Docherty has come under fire over tweets – two years ago he posted a derogatory comment about Health Minister Alex Neil.
d. In one tweet, posted on Monday morning, he said: “Do not feel any sympathy for any Separatist they tried to break our great nation and least we forget Salmond is a Rat.” And, shockingly, Docherty, Labour’s business manager in South Lanarkshire, re-tweeted a picture of Alex Salmond sitting in front of a computer screen with a picture of a noose and a stool.
e. In another tweet he says No are willing to reconcile but Yes are not. He goes on: “Because they are bitter and will try again to be vigilant watch their every move.” The councillor also tweeted: “Scotland is British now and forever you SNP and other rats.”
f. Docherty also re-tweeted tweets from the founder of the English Defence League – Tommy Robinson. An angry East Kilbride resident told the News: “Irrespective of your political views, any fair-minded person would surely agree that his position is untenable as a result and he should resign from his position immediately.”
g. In relation to the picture of Alex Salmond, which Docherty re-tweeted, another angry resident, John P Anderson – not the SNP councillor – said: “I was disgusted to see a member of South Lanarkshire Council’s executive saw fit to be posting pictures on Twitter that sought to make light of suicide.
h. I am sure that there are many families in East Kilbride that have been impacted by suicide and I am sure they find it no laughing matter. “This behaviour from a supposedly senior councillor can’t be allowed and I call for the local council and the local Labour Party to take disciplinary action against him.” http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/east-kilbride-councillor-jim-docherty-4320686
14. October 2014: Labour MP Michael McCann charged over Yes schoolboy leaflet row
a. McCann is facing a breach of the peace charge over an alleged altercation with a schoolboy leafletting for the Yes campaign before last month’s Scottish independence referendum. Michael McCann, 50, allegedly confronted a 17-year-old boy and his friend as the pair campaigned for Yes Scotland in his East Kilbride constituency.
b. It is believed that the schoolboy’s father made a complaint to the police after the incident. Mr McCann, who said he was “absolutely delighted” with the result of the referendum last month, is said to have made counter allegations against his accusers. Mr McCann is the chairman of the group of Scottish Labour MPs at Westminster. A police spokesman said a 50-year-old man had been reported to the Procurator Fiscal. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/east-kilbride-mp-michael-mccann-4400390
15. November 2014; Backbench Business: Devolution and the Union
a. Back benchers discussion time in Westminster addressing the impact on the UK after the referendum Michael McCann said, “We have much to celebrate about the constitutional decision made by the Scottish people, but I also remember the acrimony of the debate.
b. I remember being abused every single day of the campaign by people who did not support my view. I know that families are divided and friendships have been broken and we must remember that that happens in constitutional debates.
c. Frankly, the levels of intimidation were unprecedented. But despite the SNP’s yes campaign having every conceivable advantage, including the serendipity of two SNP supporters winning the Euro millions it was still defeated by the Scottish people who rejected the idea of separation because they believed in their vast numbers that a stable system of governance enables us to absorb difficult economic times more easily than we would if we were component parts within a divided United Kingdom.” http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/24717/michael_mccann/east_kilbride,_strathaven_and_lesmahagow
16. November 2014; Action 4 Equality Scotland Not impressed with Labour Party MP’s Time to Clear out the deadwood
a. Westminster remains the last redoubt where the old Conservative v Labour politics holds sway and Scotland’s interests after the next general election would be better served by a Popular Front of ‘independent minded’ MPs.
b. As opposed to the present Labour contingent who have shown over equal pay, for example, to have all the backbone of a jellyfish when it comes to standing up for the interests of their local constituents.
c. Consider for a moment the behaviour of Labour MPs in North Lanarkshire where a fierce fight over equal pay has been raging for the past 10 years. What have any of them had to say to support the position of low paid workers such as Home Carers?
d. In neighbouring South Lanarkshire Council the same thing happened even while the Labour-run Council was dragged all the way to the UK Supreme Court before being forced to publish details of the huge pay gap between traditional male and female jobs.
b. And what did all the Labour MPs in South Lanarkshire Council have to say about the scandal? Nothing. One of their number, Michael McCann MP, happens to be the former deputy leader of South Lanarkshire Council and he must have known what was going on, yet decided not to stand up and be counted.
c. So I think it would be great if these Labour MPs were driven out of Westminster and replaced by people who are committed to doing the right thing without fear or favour – and without pulling their punches. http://action4equalityscotland.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/clear-deadwood.html
17. November 2014; Radical Is The New Normal: Radical Independence Campaign Conference 2014
a. There was reference to the recent intemperate comments of Labour’s Michael McCann, MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow, who in his Twitter feed labelled the delegates at RIC 2014 as “Trots, extremists, infiltrators” and dismissed the entire event as “aka Trot convention” (sic).
b. McLaughlan also pointed out that McCann will shortly be going to court over his alleged attack on a teenage Yes activist during the referendum campaign, so perhaps McCann’s more virulent comments should be welcomed given that he stopped short of actual physical violence.
c. Walking around the vast main hall of Clyde Auditorium you would be hard-pressed to find many people fitting the description of “radical”, or any of McCann’s more scathing adjectives. A typical cross-section of the massive crowd: placid middle-aged women; bespectacled middle-class gents taking notes; young, friendly people chatting animatedly with each other; babies and young children roaming around; thoughtful pensioners slowly taking their place in the packed rows of seats; fashionable young Asian women and ordinary working blokes in crew cuts and Super dry shirts.
d. Appearances may deceive, but if the 3,000 people in the hall could be described as radicals, then there must be a cadre of ultra-radicals somewhere else, wearing camo and plotting revolution. http://markdawes2014.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/radical-is-the-new-normal-radical-independence-campaign-conference-2014/
18. Running Costs:2011/2012
Office Costs:£15,408.42. Computer/purchase, Advertising, Rent/Accn, Tel/Rent & Use , Mobile Tel/Ren & Use, Stationery
General Admin:£1,036.25. Stationery/Furniture/Mobile/Printer – Purchase & Rental.
Misc Expenses:£481.72. Office Relocation costs
Constituency Rental:£130.06. Tel/Rental
Payroll:£106,953.26. Includes Wife’s Salary £30-35K
Accommodation:£21,754.17. London Rent £19606, Council Charges £1500, Electricity/Gas £600, Service Charges 1560, Water £160.
Travel and Subs:£21,997.02. MP travel by car to and from London and within the constituency. Travel by air from Scotland to London & return
19. Running Costs:2012/2013
Office Costs:£17500,00 Computer/purchase, Advertising, Rent/Accn, Tel/Rent & Use, Mobile Tel/Ren & Use , Stationery
Accommodation:£21,754.17 London Rent £19500, Electricity/Gas £160,
Travel and Subs:£18892.15 MP & staff travel by car to and from London and within the constituency. Travel by air from Scotland to London & return
MP Michael McCann, Adam Ingram, former MP for East Kilbride, developer and Labour donor James Kean
20. Running Costs:2013/2014
Office Costs:£16,584.00 Computer/purchase, Advertising, Rent/Accn, Tel/Rent & Use , Mobile Tel/Ren & Use, Stationery
Payroll:£132,424.00 Includes Wife’s Salary £30-35K
Accommodation:£19,207.00 London Rent £18192, Council Charges £750, Electricity £265,
Travel and Subs:£21,340.00 MP travel by car to and from London and within the constituency. Travel by air from Scotland to London & return
Note: over a 5 year government McCann would be expected to cost the taxpayer around £ 250,000 each year. Total over 5 years £1,250,000
21. 15 March 2015: Labour donor accused by a local authority chief executive of threatening to coerce his council into selling a lucrative piece of land.
Developer James Kean allegedly told South Lanarkshire council officials that, unless the site was sold to his charity, he would use information he had to ensure that “people were not re-elected”.
The charity’s legal representative described the claims as “preposterous” and asked the council to withdraw the allegation.
Kean is an East Kilbride-based businessman whose firms have made donations to the Labour party. In 2011, his association with local Labour MP Michael McCann was the subject of a BBC Scotland investigation. It was alleged that McCann, when serving on South Lanarkshire Council, did not declare his ties with Kean when dealing with planning issues relating to the tycoon. Both McCann and Keane denied any wrongdoing.
Kean is at the centre of another controversy with the Labour-controlled council, this time involving the East Kilbride Community Trust (EKCT), of which he is a trustee and major funder. It was revealed in 2014 that the EKCT wanted to buy council land in the Langlands area of the town for £175,000 in order to build a sports arena. McCann offered the “magnificent project” his support but the council declined due to the offer being below market rate.
Emails, volunteered to this newspaper by the Trust, reveal an extraordinary row between the charity’s legal representative Stuart Chalmers and council chief executive Lindsay Freeland on the land talks. Kean and Chalmers met senior council officers about the issue in June last year, a meeting the local authority’s head of administration and legal services Geraldine McCann also attended.
Ms McCann also serves as the council’s Monitoring Officer, whose job is to raise issues of concern with the chief executive. Eight days after the meeting, the council chief executive emailed Chalmers:
“As you know, the Council’s Monitoring Officer was in attendance at the meeting and she has provided me with an update of the meeting and raised some concerns regarding statements made during the meeting.
“I understand that your client referred to a ‘trump card which he had up his sleeve’ information which he held and was prepared to use if the Council did not agree to sell the land to him.”
Freeland continued: “This could be interpreted to be a threat to coerce the Council to undertake a particular course of action. I note that your client did not provide any detail of the nature of this information other than that he was ‘prepared to use it to ensure that people were not re-elected’.”
“If your client is implying that any officer or elected member has acted with impropriety, then I would be obliged if you would provide me with more detail of the nature of the alleged information to allow me to take the appropriate action.”
Chalmers responded: “The Trustees…have asked me to convey their deepest concern about the language of your second paragraph.
“The suggestion that any words said by Mr Kean ‘could be interpreted as a threat to coerce the Council to undertake a particular course of action’ is an extremely serious one. In view of the nature of this comment the Trustees require that it is withdrawn. The Trustees also require a copy of the note of the meeting taken by the Monitoring Officer.
“Mr Kean also wishes to put on record that he did not use the phrase ‘prepared to use it to ensure that people were not re-elected’. He did make a reference to the next Council election and it is his recollection that the words used were quite clearly stating his wish that his dealings with the Council would hopefully improve if a new batch of Councillors were to be elected at that time.”
However, the chief executive supported the Monitoring Officer in another email to Chalmers:
“I note your interpretation of the comments made by Mr Kean at the meeting. However, having discussed the matter with the Council’s Monitoring Officer, she has confirmed, to me, her interpretation and I am therefore not prepared to withdraw the comments to which you object to in the second paragraph of your email.
“The Council’s Monitoring Officer has confirmed to me that the statement was made, and in her opinion, could be interpreted in the way set out in my email of 24 June 2014.”
“The Council’s Monitoring Officer prepared a note of the meeting. The note is confidential and I am unable to provide you with a copy.”
Chalmers responded by again disputing the “preposterous” claim:
“Apart from the quantum leap required to attribute anything threatening to those particular words, how can a “Council” (a non person), feel threatened?”
“The Trustees reiterate their request that you withdraw your suggestion of a threat or a perceived threat to the Council.”
He added: “The Council’s shortcomings in its dealings with the Trust constitute a disgrace which the people of East Kilbride deserve to know about, and no doubt they will soon enough.”
The land deal was not agreed, but the council voted to enter negotiations about granting the charity a right of access through the Langlands site to develop other land under the EKCT’s control.
It is understood the dispute regarding Kean’s alleged statements remains unresolved.
A spokesperson for the council: “It would not be appropriate to discuss conversations in meetings that are commercially sensitive.”
Asked to comment on the row, Chalmers said: “It’s all in the emails. It’s there for you to see, and we are quite happy for these to be quoted, as long as they are quoted fairly.”
An SNP spokesperson said: “There is no absolutely place for threats in Scottish politics – Labour must confirm that any donations given by Mr Kean for the general election campaign have been returned immediately while this matter is fully investigated.”
Sc��ottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “This is typical of the murky world of Lanarkshire Labour. You’d think lessons had been learned after the Falkirk fiasco, but Labour is a party that never learns.”
18th March 2015: Labour’s ‘dirty tricks’ campaign – rotten to its core
Just a few weeks ago, East Kilbride SNP called for a change to the political culture in East Kilbride. Last week, Michael McCann MP gave a definitive answer – it is business as usual for Labour, with lies, deception and false accusations the order of the day.
The local Labour Party, which at one time sought to represent the people of East Kilbride, has become a sad shadow of its former self. Far from being a mass party, it has become a number of small factions haggling over the interests of close associates.
The Sunday Herald of 15 March carried two news stories about East Kilbride Labour.
The first story highlighted complaints of intimidation from senior members of the local Labour Party. The Herald revealed that the details of the allegations and the findings of an investigation into them are not to be made public. It seems the people of East Kilbride are not allowed to know the kind of people Labour offers to represent them.
The paper also revealed that the Chief Executive of South Lanarkshire Council expressed concern at threats allegedly issued against Councillors who failed to approve a land transaction pursued by a prominent Labour supporter who is closely linked to Michael McCann. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/13205763.Council_chief_executive_accused_Labour_donor_of_land_sale__threat_/
In an attempt to deflect attention from these issues, McCann resorted to the age-old tactic of throwing accusations at opponents. We have been here before. During last year’s referendum campaign McCann accused Yes campaigners of indulging in threats and intimidation, but without a shred of evidence emerging to support his allegations. Of course, McCann himself ended up facing a charge of Breach of the Peace following a clash with a couple of teenagers during that campaign.
On 12 March, East Kilbride SNP held a very positive – and a very transparent – ‘Meet the Candidate’ event in the Murray Lounge. Linda Fabiani MSP introduced Dr Lisa Cameron who talked of the coming campaign and responded to questions. As the photographs show, it was a hugely positive event, attended by a wide range of people.
The next day, Michael McCann put up on his website a comment on the event, which those present have described as a tissue of lies and innuendo and ‘like a different meeting’. He makes clear that his comments are based on the presence in the meeting of one of his (very few) activists, masquerading as an SNP supporter.
In reviewing photographs of the event, an eagle-eyed SNP member picked out a face he had previously seen on social media working alongside Michael McCann and his election agent, Graham Scott.
And, here he is, without sunglasses.
His companion for the evening was apparently very pleased with his performance – overheard, as they departed, congratulating him on ‘having played his part well’. When the credentials given by the Labour activist and his companion were checked, it turned out they had provided false details, laying a trail to the door of an innocent local couple. Nice people!
The irony of using such deception to accuse your opponents of running a dirty tricks campaign seems lost on Michael McCann and his ever-diminishing campaign team. These are the kind of tactics discussed by student activists in the bar on a Friday night, but which never see the light of day once sobriety returns. They are signs of a growing desperation in East Kilbride Labour, of an MP devoid of ethics; this is a campaign rotten to its core.
In his press release about the fantasy event he created, McCann says he wants to talk about the challenges of our time. Perhaps he could start by explaining Labour’s record over the five years since he was elected, and what ‘Voting Labour to beat the Tories’ in 2010 achieved for East Kilbride.
• Labour failed to challenge the Tories on austerity. When provided with opportunities to defeat the Coalition Government, Ed Miliband let Labour MPs abstain from voting, ensuring the government would win crucial votes.
• In January, Labour backed the coalition’s planned fiscal strategy for beyond the General Election, including a further £30billion of cuts above those already planned by George Osborne.
• Labour leaders are defying their own members to back spending on a new generation Trident nuclear missile system. This will undermine efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons and divert up to £100billion from vital public services, including conventional defence, in the years ahead.
• At a local level, Labour let East Kilbride down over the closure of Rolls Royce. Instead of building a consensus to take the town forward, they chose to work only with the Tories in a secretive and ineffective Task Force. Future generations of the town’s job seekers will pay the price for that politically-motivated decision.
The event in the Murray Lounge was just one of a number of opportunities for Lisa Cameron to lay out the positive vision the SNP is campaigning for in this election. It is noteworthy that Michael McCann sees no need for such an event. His is a campaign devoid of vision , just as he has been an MP devoid of connection to the ordinary lives of the people of East Kilbride. https://eksnp.scot/2015/03/18/528/
21st March 2015: Call for Murphy to act on ‘canker on the body politic’ of East Kilbride
Cllr Gladys Miller, Convener of East Kilbride SNP has written to Jim Murphy MP, Leader of Scottish Labour calling for an inquiry into the local branch of the Labour Party and action against those who regularly attract bad publicity for both East Kilbride and Scottish Labour.
Cllr Miller’s letter follows an extraordinary week of revelations about East Kilbride Labour:
- The Chief Executive of South Lanarkshire Council expressed concern that an East Kilbride Labour supporter may have threatened to use damaging information against elected members unless they acted in a particular way on a disposal of Council land.
- Scottish Labour refused to release details of an investigation into complaints by prominent Labour members about a culture of intimidation within East Kilbride Labour.
- Michael McCann MP attacked the SNP, apparently based on the account of a Labour activist and a female companion who provided false details when they attended an SNP campaign briefing. Other attendees have condemned Mr McCann’s description of the meeting as a ’tissue of lies and innuendo’.
The text of Councillor Miller’s letter is below. We will post an update when we receive a response from Scottish Labour.
Dear Mr Murphy
I understand that the current state of the opinion polls has resulted in some Scottish Labour MPs and candidates realising, perhaps for the first time, that they face a prospect of defeat in the General Election on 7 May.
For some candidates, this prospect will act as a spur to fight for their seat by engaging with their electors, listening to local concerns, and responding in a way that recognises the legitimacy of political accountability. Unfortunately, there will be other candidates who take a different approach, who lash out at those they perceive as threatening their power base, or their livelihood, or any other benefit to which they feel entitled, simply by being lucky enough to be selected for (what used to be) a safe Labour seat. Unfortunately, in Michael McCann MP, East Kilbride, has an MP pre-eminently in the second camp.
Just a few weeks ago, East Kilbride SNP called for a change to the political culture in East Kilbride. Last week, Mr McCann gave us a definitive answer – it is to be business as usual, with lies, deception and false accusations the order of the day.
You will be aware that concern about East Kilbride Labour is of long-standing, with Councillors, including Mr McCann when in that post, failing to declare interests when others would have done so, and internal feuding. The Sunday Herald of 15 March carried two news stories about East Kilbride Labour. The first related to complaints of intimidation from senior members. The second related to concerns expressed by the Chief Executive of South Lanarkshire Council at threats allegedly issued against Councillors who failed to approve a land transaction pursued by a prominent Labour supporter who is closely linked to Mr McCann.
Being aware that these stories were due to surface, Mr McCann resorted to a diversion – using the attendance of one of his activists at an SNP event, under a false name, as the basis for unfounded allegations against members of East Kilbride SNP, including Linda Fabiani MSP. I understand that he has gone so far as to write to Nicola Sturgeon repeating these allegations.
Mr McCann has form in this kind of tactic. During last year’s referendum he accused local Yes campaigners of threats and intimidation, without a shred of evidence emerging to support his allegations. Embarrassingly, Mr McCann ended up facing a charge of Breach of the Peace following a street confrontation with a couple of teenagers. People in East Kilbride are amazed that he has been left in the post of Chair of the Scottish Group of Labour MPs after receiving this charge, which suggests a tolerance of his aggressive style. I look forward to hearing why he has been left in this post, contrary to previous practice when an elected member is charged with an offence.
On 12 March, East Kilbride SNP held a very transparent ‘Meet the Candidate’ event, in which Linda Fabiani introduced Dr Lisa Cameron, who talked of the coming campaign and responded to questions. This was a hugely positive event, attended by a wide range of people. The next day, Michael McCann put up on his website and issued to the press a comment on the event, described by those present as a tissue of lies and innuendo and ‘like a different meeting’. Having reviewed photographs of the event, SNP members identified that one of the attendees had been seen on social media working alongside Mr McCann and his election agent,Graham Scott.
The Labour activist was accompanied to our meeting by a female companion. At the end of the evening, she was overheard congratulating him on ‘having played his part well’. When the credentials given by the couple were checked, it turned out they had provided false details, laying a trail to the door of an innocent local couple. If SNP activists in East Kilbride were anything like the fantasy creatures of Michael McCann’s imagination, this could have had very serious consequences.
I don’t know what monitoring Scottish Labour carries out of the integrity of its local branches. However, the number of times East Kilbride Labour has featured in the press spotlight (for the wrong reasons) suggest something seriously wrong with the culture of that organisation.
Its members, including elected members, have been reported as indulging in behaviour that may be unethical, misogynistic, mendacious and intimidatory, yet the same small group of people continue to occupy its senior posts year after year and nothing is done to tackle this pattern of unacceptable behaviour.
As a newly elected leader of Scottish Labour who has promised to change the organisation for the better, I am asking you to tackle the canker on the body politic that is East Kilbride Labour. Please initiate an early investigation into the issues that have been running through the history of that organisation and deal with those who drag the name of East Kilbride and of Scottish Labour into disrepute.
I attach for your interest a photograph of the McCann campaign activist who attended our meeting, and his companion on the night. This may help you identify the source of the misinformation currently being broadcast by Mr McCann about our event on 12th March.
I look forward to an end to Mr McCann’s unprincipled attacks on the integrity of members of East Kilbride SNP and to hearing of your proposals for further action. Yours for Scotland: Councillor Gladys Miller: Convener, East Kilbride SNP: https://eksnp.scot/2015/03/21/call-for-murphy-to-act-on-canker-on-the-body-politic-of-east-kilbride/
21st March 2015: Fury as McCann mishandles data notices
Michael McCann has angered constituents by raising concerns over his handling of voters’ personal information if he is not re-elected. A number of constituents contacted East Kilbride SNP about a letter Mr McCann has distributed at taxpayers’ expense. Despite being very badly written, the letter clearly implies that if he doesn’t hear from the recipient before the election he will destroy any personal information he holds on them ‘immediately’ if he loses his seat.
Appalled at the terms of the letter, we went in search of guidance on what Mr McCann should tell constituents. Not surprisingly, the guidance, published by the ICO and the UK Parliament, bears no resemblance to the letter that has dropped through doors all over East Kilbride.
The summary guidance from the ICO is
“GOOD PRACTICE TIP: Explain to constituents clearly what you intend
to do with their information whenever opportunity offers.”
The guidance confirms that personal information can be ‘processed’ for up to four days after the election; it therefore need not be destroyed ‘immediately’. So, there was no need for Mr McCann to cause distress to elderly and vulnerable constituents. The guidance suggests the use of a user-friendly form outlining the options available to constituents. This includes having their personal information returned, an option not even mentioned in Mr McCann’s letter.
The letter singularly fails to do its job, unless Mr McCann really means that if he is not re-elected he will act in the outrageous manner it describes.
One experienced Westminster case worker described this exercise as primarily for getting McCann’s name dropping through constituents’ letter boxes courtesy of Royal Mail and House of Commons expenses.
In his column for the East Kilbride News on 18 March, Mr McCann claimed to have worked with up to 6,000 constituents. If even a quarter of them received this notice, the cost will run into thousands of pounds. This badly executed publicity stunt further damages Mr McCann’s credibility and raises serious doubts about his competence and that of the team around him. We are calling on Michael McCann to write to his constituents again – this time using his campaign funds – clarifying that they do not need to contact him until after May 7th and giving them the full range of options for what he will do with their personal information.
A pattern of abuse
After this blog went up on-line, people got in contact from across Scotland, reporting Labour MPs sending similar letters to constituents. Some, amazingly, were even worse than Michael Mc Cann’s. We heard tell of similar letters from Jimmy Hood in Lanark and Hamilton East, Tom Greatrex in Rutherglen & Hamilton West, and this one from Jim McGovern, in Dundee West.
It seems there is a general decision by Scottish Labour MPs – or a directive from head office – that they should make one more call on House of Commons expenses to send out letters that are little more than badly designed personal promotion. Come 8th of May, there will undoubtedly be a call for more public funds for another round of letters, hopefully this time telling constituents the real options for dealing with their personal data.
30th March 2015: An open letter to Michael McCann From: Duncan McLean, Secretary, East Kilbride SNP
Dear Mr McCann
I understand from the East Kilbride News of of 26 March that you hold what you assert to be a transcript of a ‘Meet the Candidate’ event held by East Kilbride SNP in the Murray Lounge on Thursday 12 March. This recording was made without my knowledge as organiser of the event and, if such a recording exists, I have been recorded without my approval.
Please note that I assert ownership of any of my personal data contained within that unauthorised recording, and in any transcript or re-recording of that event. I am issuing you with notice under Section 10 of the Data Protection Act that you should cease processing my personal data and should not pass to others any further personal data of mine, or data that you assert to be my personal data obtained without my consent.
According to the Act, I must provide you with a reason for serving this notice. My reason for issuing this notice is as follows:
My objection to your processing or transmitting my personal data is that it is being used as the basis for false and misleading statements about East Kilbride SNP, and the SNP Candidate for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow in the General Election, Dr Lisa Cameron.
As an example, your statement “SNP activists have infiltrated local schools in a bid to brainwash pupils into supporting their political brand.” has no basis in reality, and certainly not in any statement made at this meeting.
The only SNP supporters who have ‘infiltrated’ schools are pupils required to attend by law, or have stayed on beyond the leaving age to advance their education. Your attack on them as ‘infiltrators’ is bizarre from someone who claims to be a serious politician. It is even more bizarre from someone who regularly attends local schools and young persons’ voluntary groups in a political capacity.
That you continued to make these visits after being charged with Breach of the Peace for a confrontation involving a school pupil raises serious questions. If the charge is no longer outstanding, your constituents are entitled to know the basis on which it has been discharged.
On their website, Scottish Labour Students say, “We are active on our university and college campuses, in our schools and in our local communities, helping to take Labour’s message to wider society and spread Labour values wherever we go.” (my emphasis) I look forward to receiving by return your condemnation of this infiltrationist, brainwashing organisation, or a retraction of your ludicrous allegations against East Kilbride SNP.
The Herald newspaper has already carried a response to your claims “Jim Gilhooly, executive director of Education Resources at South Lanarkshire Council, said: “It is worth noting that these allegations are anonymous, so must be treated with caution. Furthermore, our secondary schools have all confirmed that there are no such political meetings organised within school premises at lunchtime or any other part of the school day.””
Had you taken the allegations seriously, you would have made immediate contact with Mr Gilhooly or with local schools before making such outrageous statements. Your misrepresentation of decent SNP members and associated attack on Lisa Cameron’s character are unwarranted and intolerable, and you do not have my consent to hold my personal data and to use it in this way.
The use to which you have already put selected extracts from the transcript of this event you say you hold may well be a breach of Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act, the terms of which you can find online.
A defence to the charge of making a false statement is that you show you “had reasonable grounds for believing, and did believe, that statement to be true”. You say that you made your statements based on a transcript presented to you by Andy MacMillan. It is reasonable to expect that you would have satisfied yourself as to his character and suitability to be your sole witness for these allegations, and therefore a key plank in your campaign against East Kilbride SNP and its candidate. Your comments in the EK News reveal how little you knew about Mr MacMillan and the nature of his business.
Whilst selling ‘Clubwear’ is a perfectly defensible business, another strand of the company’s business – the sale of dresses for strippers – was made clear by the company’s Twitter account. This account was closed down as soon as attention was focused on it by your allegations. However, the ‘pinned tweet’ shown in the EK News article, posted almost a year ago, linked this Twitter account to the world of online pornography. There was no discernible warning on the home page of the account that this was the case. The voters of East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow will be amazed that you are continuing to link your campaign to such activity.
You claim that your record is ‘transparent and unblemished’. It is certainly transparent, but to call it ‘unblemished’ while dragging your campaign into the gutter in this way and with an unresolved charge of Breach of the Peace in the public domain is a serious error of judgement.
I insist that you stop associating my name and what you allege to be my personal data with your sleazy and underhand campaign.
Please note that you are required to respond to this request to stop using my personal data within 21 calendar days. I reserve the right to make public that this notice has been served and your response, or failure to respond, to it.
This notice is served without prejudice to any other rights or remedies I, or any other party, may have.
6th April 2015: Controversy over Council’s sweetheart deal for McCann
On 30th March, the 2010 to 2015 UK Parliament was dissolved, and Michael McCann ceased to be Labour MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow and became just another candidate.
Before dissolution, his campaign had already begun to plumb the depths. After the dissolution, the McCann campaign launched its biggest attack yet on the norms of political campaigning. Overnight, it turned South Lanarkshire Council’s operational HQ in East Kilbride, the Civic Centre, into its campaign headquarters.
As staff entered the Civic Centre the next morning, and every morning since, they have had to troop past a bank of posters promoting the Labour candidate’s campaign. Many of the staff know Mr McCann of old; not only did he have his parliamentary office in the building, he is also a former Deputy Leader of the Council, which has a dire track record of dealing with equal pay claims by its female employees. Although there have been reports of rifts between close associates of Mr McCann and the Council, and of former colleagues refusing to campaign for him, these don’t seem to get in the way of the Council doing what it can to aid his re-election.
As the challenges from political opponents and voters mounted, the Council stalled, dithered, and delayed answering the question, “Why has this been allowed?”. Only when they were safely off for their long Easter weekend did the Council slide out a carefully worded response to an enquiry from the media, “The Council rents accommodation to Michael McCann in the same way that it has at times rented accommodation to politicians of different political parties.”
Mr McCann has run his constituency operation from the Civic Centre since 2011. Before that, it was the base for East Kilbride’s former Labour MSP, Andy Kerr. When the SNP’s Linda Fabiani defeated Andy Kerr, she asked about moving into the Civic Centre. The Council rebuffed Ms Fabiani’s approach, allowing Mr McCann to move in instead. This decision will have cost taxpayers thousands of pounds in wasted IT and telecoms costs and alterations to signage for the Civic Centre.
Since 2011, the Council has resisted attempts by the SNP to find out the terms of its lease with Mr McCann. While citing the spurious grounds of ‘commercial confidentiality’ (a favourite tactic of SLC), it now seems that the over-riding concern has been to conceal the advantageous location Mr McCann’s campaign would enjoy at this General Election.
The Council’s attempt to cover its tracks on this sweetheart deal has extended to asking the wrong question about its legal obligations and reassuring everyone it had done nothing wrong: Its press statement said, “After discussions with the Electoral Commission our legal advice is that the Council is not in breach of electoral law as a result of these posters being displayed.” (our emphasis)
The question the council should have asked, to which it may very well have received a different answer, is, “Are we in breach of Local Government law?”, to which the answer would probably have been ‘Yes, you are’.
For the avoidance of doubt, the fact that it was Mr McCann’s team that put the posters up inside the Civic Centre is no defence. The act is absolutely clear “A local authority shall not give financial or other assistance to a person for the publication of material which the authority are prohibited by this section from publishing themselves.”
We know that the Council believes the publication of this material on the Civic Centre could be construed as their endorsement of a political position. We know this, because they very vigorously advocated and defended this view during the independence referendum.
Within minutes of the above ‘Yes’ sign appearing on the grass outside the Civic Centre, the Council swung into action. Senior staff from its Hamilton Head Office contacted the Civic Centre and instructed removal of the ‘offending’ sign. To provide backup, a Council lorry was dispatched, with two operatives, to ensure it was removed. The following email from a senior council employee makes clear that the Civic Centre, even the grass outside it, should not be used for campaigning,
“For future reference, I would advise you that campaign materials are not permitted at the East Kilbride Civic Centre or other such operational buildings of the Council … The landscaped area you refer to is part of the Civic Centre complex and therefore falls within the above guidance.” (our emphasis)
If a Yes sign resting on an area of public open space is not permitted because it could give the appearance of Council endorsement, this is true in spades of two large banks of posters on the Civic Centre itself. Despite demanding urgent removal of Yes signs from the grass outside the Civic Centre, the Council’s current defence appears to be that, three years earlier, it had entered into a lease that allows Mr McCann to convert his MP’s office into the headquarters for his election campaign and to use the building as a very high profile poster site.
This is an indefensible position and the Council Leader and its Chief Executive, who also happens to be the Returning Officer for the Council area, need to take action. Having permitted Mr McCann a week’s publicity at the expense of its reputation, when the Council resumes normal business after the Easter break, they must address this outrageous demonstration of political bias.
If Mr McCann refuses to remove the posters, it can not be beyond the wit of the Council to find a means of concealing the posters from general view. https://eksnp.scot/2015/04/06/controversy-over-councils-sweetheart-deal-for-mccann/
30 April 2015: East Kilbride Labour candidate demands probe after learning breach charge is dropped via social media
Michael McCann, Labour candidate for East Kilbride, says he is considering civil action against his accusers amidst claims that he was the victim of a politically-motivated attack designed to ruin his reputation. He was charged with breach of the peace after an incident involving young Yes campaigners in the run-up to the referendum.Mr McCann, who is campaigning to be re-elected as MP for East Kilbride, was arrested after a 17-year-old schoolboy’s father reportedly made a complaint to police.A counter allegation was made to officers about Mr McCann’s accusers.
Prosecutors said last week no proceedings are to be taken against either alleged victim. But a furious Michael McCann has now formally complained to the Crown Office claiming the charge against him was mishandled. He says, while the charge against him was dropped in February, the Fiscal’s office did not inform him of their decision. Instead, he learned about it via social media. He is now demanding an internal probe into procedures at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal’s Office.
Claiming he was the victim of a politically-motivated attack, Mr McCann says he is now taking legal advice about raising a civil action against his accusers. He told the News: “I was the victim of a malicious crime and I want justice. “I want the Crown Office and Fiscal Service to pursue the individuals who wasted police time, CO&PFS time and tax payers’ money. “I am awaiting an opinion from my solicitor about what action I can take against these people. “At the same time I am completely dissatisfied with the way the authorities dealt with this case. “I was forced to undergo the trauma and humiliation of being questioned by police and arrested in full view of my family, while knowing that I had done absolutely nothing wrong. “I had to fork out for legal advice then wait for months on end to find out my fate. “Then, when the Procurator Fiscal made the correct decision to drop the proceedings, they didn’t have the decency to inform me.
Mr McCann added: “Charging people and then not informing them that those charges have been dropped does not best serve the cause of Scottish justice. “The system has to change. At the moment it is illogical and insulting. “Without pre-judging their response, I would be astonished if the Crown Office and Fiscal Service could find a way of justifying their behaviour in this instance.” Comments about the incident, on September 9, appeared on Facebook before the involvement of officers.
The youth and a young female friend are understood to have been leafleting in the constituency for the Yes campaign at the time. Mr McCann says he was charged after he told a youth to stop defacing a “No” campaign advertising board during the lead-up to the referendum. He said: “I have been a victim of a malicious crime designed to ruin my reputation. “The accusation caused great personal damage to me and a great deal of distress to my family. “The case made the front page of the East Kilbride News and has been repeatedly referred to on social media by political opponents, with ridiculous exaggerated allegations that I had assaulted a schoolchild.
A spokesman for the Crown Office said: “The Procurator Fiscal received reports relating to an incident involving a 50-year-old man and a 17-year-old man, said to have occurred in East Kilbride on September 9, 2014. “After full and careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the cases, the Procurator Fiscal decided that there was insufficient evidence available for prosecution. “The Procurator Fiscal instructed no proceedings after a thorough investigation into the allegation. Intimation of the decision was dealt with in the normal manner in accordance with our procedures and practices.” http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/local-news/east-kilbride-labour-candidate-demands-5601753
5th May 2015: Press attack on young activists sees McCann branded ‘not fit to be an MP
In October 2014, Michael McCann MP was charged with Breach of the Peace following an incident in which it has been alleged Mr McCann verbally abused two young Yes campaigners. Last week, it was revealed no further proceedings were to be taken against him.
The young Yes activists, Jordan Lindsay (aged 17 at the time of the incident) and Eryn Semple (aged 19) have lodged a statement with the East Kilbride News describing the incident and its aftermath. They have issued a challenge to Mr McCann to do the same.
After hearing that the charges have been dropped, Mr McCann used the opportunity to launch an astonishing press attack on Jordan and Eryn. In the East Kilbride News, he claimed to be the victim of a ‘malicious crime’ and accused them of wasting police time. He also said he was taking legal advice about suing both young people.
These are serious charges and threats, and were carried on the front page of the EK News. Jordan and Eryn, both of whom are well known through social media as having been involved in the incident, were given no right to reply when these accusations were carried. The EK News has refused to carry the response by Jordan and Eryn in this week’s paper. Clearly, Michael McCann’s bullying behaviour pays off.
Jordan and Eryn are furious at this decision. Both families fully support their version of events, and have hit back at Mr McCann, branding him unfit to be an MP.
Jordan Lindsay said:
“Eryn and I were making our way home after a leafleting session for the Yes campaign when a car u-turned and pulled up beside us. The driver, who I recognised as Michael McCann, accused us of defacing a poster and said he would deface us. I asked him to repeat his statement, which he refused to do. “His allegation that we had defaced a billboard was untrue, it is so high off the ground we would have needed a ladder to reach it. His behaviour was very aggressive.
Eryn Semple said:
“When a car u-turned and stopped beside us, I was concerned at where this was going. When I realised the person shouting at us was Michael McCann, I was shocked at his behaviour.”
Below is a picture of Jordan and Eryn at the billboard they were accused of defacing, now being used by Michael McCann as part of his campaign. As can be seen from the photo, even Jordan, at six feet two, can’t reach the bottom of the billboard from the highest point on the ground.
Jordan spoke to his father, Steven Lindsay, about the incident. Mr Lindsay, who was not involved in the Yes campaign, and is not an SNP member, was shocked at such behaviour from someone in Mr McCann’s position. He told Jordan he should report the matter to the Police or he would go and speak to Mr McCann. Jordan reported the incident to the Police.
Hearing about Michael McCann’s allegation that the complaint was politically motivated and a waste of Police time, Jordan and Eryn’s parents were furious. Steven Lindsay said: “Michael McCann’s allegation that the complaint to the police was politically motivated is a fantasy of his own invention. Jordan was clearly shocked at Mr McCann’s behaviour, both in making a false allegation of vandalism and his aggressive attitude. It was because of my insistence that Mr McCann be spoken to about his behaviour that Jordan reported the matter to the Police. “Someone who is let off a charge of Breach of the Peace and responds by slandering a couple of young people is not fit to be an MP. That is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of character.”
Aamer Anwar, Jordan Lindsay’s solicitor said “Jordan has protested his innocence from the start, and whilst relieved the Crown have dropped charges against him, he is disappointed that there are no further proceedings against Mr McCann. The last few months have been a tremendous strain for a young man who had every right to campaign, without being bullied and intimidated. Despite Mr McCann’s recent assertions that he is seeking legal advice, there are no proceedings against Jordan, who would of course welcome his day in court to let everyone know what happened that night”
Duncan McLean, Secretary of East Kilbride SNP, said: “Within minutes of this incident occurring, my attention was drawn to Jordan’s post on Facebook, giving a clear statement of the event, from which neither he nor Eryn have wavered. That account, and their subsequent behaviour has the ring of truth. “The contrast between their behaviour and that of Michael McCann couldn’t be more stark. Making serious allegations against young people, but failing to give them the opportunity to respond is the kind of moral failure Michael McCann has displayed throughout his political career. “His decision to make a counter-complaint, backed up by two unidentified witnesses, and now his wild accusations of criminal behaviour, are the mark of a politician not in control of his decisions. He is a liability to his constituents and to his party.”
SUMMARY OF EVENTS OF 9 SEPTEMBER BY JORDAN LINDSAY AND ERYN SEMPLE –
AS SUPPLIED TO THE EK NEWS
We had been campaigning in the Jackton area with Yes East Kilbride. We left our colleagues at Hairmyres Station and set out for Westwood along Eaglesham Road. As we walked away from the bus stop located near the entrance to Windward Road, we became aware of a car behind us performing a U-turn and accelerating back towards us. At this time, we had no idea of the identity of the occupant.
The car pulled to a halt beside us, the window on the front passenger side was pulled down, and the driver shouted at us. Jordan heard the driver say that we had defaced a No poster and he would deface us. He bent down, looked into the vehicle, and recognised Michael McCann. There was no one else visible in the vehicle. He and Michael McCann conducted a brief conversation but Mr McCann refused to repeat what he had said when he first drew up. Having also realised who the driver was, and in an effort to calm things down Eryn jokingly said “Just Vote Yes”. Mr McCann muttered “Typical Yes supporters.” and drove off. Mr McCann remained in his car for the whole conversation, which lasted approximately two minutes, therefore the words he used could have been heard by no one other than the participants in the incident.
Jordan posted a description of the incident on his Facebook page as soon as he got home and this was being read and shared by his Facebook friends within minutes of the event. Eryn texted her mother immediately after the incident and discussed it with her when she got home.
That evening, Jordan discussed the incident with his father and made clear that he felt threatened by Mr McCann’s approach and his language. Jordan’s father said someone needed to speak to Mr McCann about his inappropriate behaviour, and either he would do it or the Police should. The following morning, Jordan reported the incident to the Police. Thereafter, statements were taken from both Jordan and Eryn.
In early October, Police Officers attended Jordan’s home, they confirmed that Michael McCann had been charged with an offence in response to the report he had submitted. The Police Officers advised Jordan that Mr McCann had brought forward two witnesses and, on the basis of statements they made in support of Mr McCann, Jordan was also to be charged with an offence.
As the incident largely consisted of a conversation between Jordan Lindsay standing at the side of Eaglesham Road, speaking to Michael McCann through the passenger side window of a car in which Mr McCann appeared to be the sole occupant, it is not clear what understanding of the incident these witnesses would have had. https://eksnp.scot/2015/05/05/press-attack-on-young-activists-sees-mccann-branded-not-fit-to-be-an-mp/
Labour Party Women
29th June 2015: Council still in lockdown over Civic Centre scandal
East Kilbride SNP has grave concerns about the way South Lanarkshire Council discharges, or fails to discharge, its statutory obligation to remain politically neutral. In recent months, the Council has given the impression that it handed decision-making over East Kilbride Civic Centre to East Kilbride Labour Party to do with as it wishes.
We have challenged the Council to come clean over its arrangement with the Labour Party, but it has refused to do so, instead indulging in delaying tactics and dubious legal challenges to requests for information.
Voters who asked for information about the Council’s sweetheart deal with Labour have received lengthy emails asking them to justify the release of ‘personal data’, despite the fact none of the information requested is sensitive personal data.
For the record, it has long been established that the release of personal data may be justified if there is a legitimate public interest. Certainly, as regards the misuse of the Civic Centre by Labour, even if personal data is to be disclosed, this is entirely justified.
Office premises in EK Civic Centre were made available to Adam Ingram, Andy Kerr, and Michael McCann only because of the office to which they had been elected. At least, that has been the reason given by South Lanarkshire Council; maybe the reluctance to provide information indicates that no such policy has ever been approved by the Council.
Could it be the case that they only got access to the Civic Centre because they carry the right party card? Certainly, the address given for ex Labour MP Jimmy Hood‘s Constituency Office suggests East Kilbride is not the only town in which South Lanarkshire Council has proven a willing landlord for a Labour MP; but it has been strangely unable to provide space in any of its operational premises for an MP, MSP, or MEP of a different political party.
If there is a clear policy covering all-party access to Council premises by elected members, why is the Council so unwilling to disclose how it has been implemented?
All of the elected members, particularly Michael McCann, a former Deputy Leader of the Council, should have been aware that a lease with the Council would be subject to Freedom of Information disclosure. Indeed, if their use of the premises have been funded by either the Scottish or UK Parliaments, information will be available from these bodies as well.
The statement below, which is from a decision of the Information Commissioner in respect of Caerphilly Council in Wales is clear:
“When considering what information third parties should expect to have disclosed about them, the Commissioner considers that a distinction should be drawn as to whether the information relates to the third party’s public or private life.
“The Commissioner’s view is that information which relates to an individual’s private life (i.e. their home, family, social life or finances) will deserve more protection than information about them acting in an official or work capacity (i.e. their public life).”
If the Council was unaware of this Caerphilly case and many others like it, they certainly have been aware of guidance, issued by the Scottish Information Commissioner. We know that, because, the Council drew attention to the guidance in the email sent out to inquirers as part of the process of delaying making information available.
“In an Information Rights Tribunal decision which looked at the disclosure of details of MPs’ expenses the Tribunal considered that there were clear legitimate public interests at stake.
These included the general principle of freedom of information, public scrutiny of the use of public funds, encouraging MPs to make better value for money choices, assessing politicians’ probity, enhancing public confidence in Parliament and informing public debate on reforms of the allowance system.
“The legitimacy of these interests was enhanced by a history of mistakes and misuse of the expense system, …(our emphasis)”
These two statements point very clearly to South Lanarkshire Council releasing the information requested without further delay. Here is why:
- The information requested relates to the tenants operating in their public capacity – this includes the period spent by Mr McCann winding up his MP’s office if he insists on doing so within the Civic Centre to the detriment of his successor’s ability to serve the voters.
- As the landlord is a local authority and the tenant the current or immediate past holder of a public office and funded from the public purse there should be a presumption in favour of freedom of information.
- The public is entitled to examine how the Council implements its policy of making an office available to elected members of the Scottish, UK, and European Parliaments.
- The history of South Lanarkshire Council’s apparent political bias adds legitimacy to the public’s interest in these matters, not least because the Civic Centre was turned into a political poster site for two weeks, almost certainly a breach of the Council’s statutory obligations.
So, what is the Council achieving by withholding the information requested, apart from further damage to its reputation? It is of course buying time to cover its tracks, and to hope that attention moves on to other matters, letting it return to ‘business as usual’.
It is time for the Council to bring its cover up and stalling tactics to an end, and stop using a spurious ‘data protection’ defence that has long since lost any credibility. They must release the information requested, in full, and as quickly as possible.