Labour Party

The Sin of Silence in Sin City Glasgow Part 2 – 2010 A Year of Turmoil and Scandal

1. February 18 2010; SPT Chief Executive Ron Culley stands down after expenses row

a. Last week the Glasgow-based Regional Transit Agency lost its Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive. Labour Councillors Alistair Watson and Davie McLachlan and Chief Executive Ron Culley after it emerged the quango had spent more than £117,573 on expenses, £49,000 of it on fact-finding trips around the world. They were ordered to stand down by their friend and colleague Steven Purcell, leader of Glasgow City Council.

b. Bob Wyllie, former BBC Scotland investigations editor and SPT’s Communications Director, also became embroiled in the controversy after The Sunday Times reported yesterday that he had claimed £773 for a trip to Manchester which coincided with Rangers’ appearance in the 2008 Uefa Cup Final.

c. Culley is a season ticket holder at Celtic Park , as are Willie Haughey, Steven Purcell and Frank McAveety. Jack McConnell is a regular guest.

d. Culley, Haughey and McAveety were at the forefront of the campaign for the M74 extension which improved Road links to Parkhead. 3 days after McConnell and McAveety announced the relocation of Sport Scotland to land adjacent to Celtic Park.

e. Culley, (as Chief Executive of Strathclyde Passenger Transport) recently issued a low-key statement declaring his intention to build a new £20 million train link to Parkhead jointly funded by SPT, GCC and The Scottish Executive. More recently Culley announced plans for a Glasgow Underground extension to Parkhead.

Click to access Culley.pdf

2. March 8 2010; Labour ‘visionary’ quits politics amid drugs blackmail scandal

a. One of the rising stars of New Labour – once hailed by Tony Blair as a ‘visionary’ – has quit politics amid a growing drugs scandal. Steven Purcell was seen as a talented young moderniser who was tipped for a glittering career in the party he joined aged just 14. But the 37-year-old has resigned as leader of Scotland’s biggest council, citing stress and exhaustion – amid lurid claims about his drug use. It emerged yesterday that the gay former Councillor had been warned by police last year about an underworld plot to blackmail him.

3. March 15 2010; Council firm in £10m ‘contracts for donor’ probe

a. A company created by former Glasgow City Council leader Steven Purcell is facing an independent audit after awarding around £10 million of contracts to a firm run by Labour’s biggest Scottish donor. City Building (Glasgow) LLP, an arm’s-length company set up by the Labour-run city council, awarded two large deals to City Refrigeration Holdings UK in 2007. The founder and boss of City Refrigeration is Willie Haughey, who has donated more than £1.1m to Labour since 2003. City Building, which replaced the council’s Building Services Department, was created in 2006 as a tax-efficient trading unit, which could bid for construction work beyond Glasgow, and now has a turnover of £180m and more than 2,000 employees.

4. March 23 2010 Stephen Purcell – What Did Gordon Brown Know and When?

a. A scandal far from London is edging closer and close to the door of Number 10. In amongst the plants and moans that normally take up the latter stages of PMQs there was a rare gem of a very intriguing question from the SNP’s Angus Robertson asking Gordon about a conference call to discuss the suitability of Labour’s disgraced cocaine king Steven Purcell as the candidate in the Glasgow East by-election in 2008.

i. A ‘Labour insider’ claimed: “At that point, rumours about Purcell had reached the party headquarters. So a discussion was had with him – and he was asked outright about the drug rumours. And after that, any idea of him being the candidate was Abandoned immediately.”

ii. Angus Robertson asked: “Given that the Prime Minister will have looked closely at the tragic case. Will he confirm whether a Downing Street staffer took part in a conference in July 2008 which discussed the suitability of Stephen Purcell?”

iii. Gordon Brown: “I know nothing of what he says but I shall look at it.”

b. Always one for a dodging a question, what was Gordon so coy about? Why so subdued? At the post-PMQ briefing afterwards Scottish journalists were palmed off with, “There are more important questions”. For once someone doing the briefing was correct. There are some very interesting questions still surrounding this case indeed.

c. Could it be that Brown knows more than he is letting on? The story of Steven Purcell’s resignation has led to a constant drip drip about just what was going on at Glasgow City Council and its relationship with big donors to the Labour party. The Scottish Sunday papers are having a field ay about big Labour donors and lucrative public sector contracts. Million pound deals, quango donors and Purcell linked to shady companies. And it goes further than that – blackmail and organised crime.

d. Other aspects worthy of follow-up is why the Scottish editors are so reluctant to get down and dirty and blow the lid of this story once and for all. It’s not like they didn’t know : “Politicians, journalists and lawyers alike, apparently, had direct or indirect knowledge for years about the personal habits of the leader of Glasgow City Council and chose to ignore it.” Great. But this whole saga has plenty more questions that are still needing to be answered. Not just about Labour donors getting taxpayers cash but about Labour donors and their connections with gangsters.

e. “The Digger”, a small A5 Glasgow news-sheet recently revealed that Labour donor James Mortimer is the uncle of the common law wife of a well known Glasgow gangster. As well as being a high profile attendee, along with the Prime Minister, at the Labour fundraising dinner the day before Steven Purcell’s little moment of crisis, Mr Mortimer has entertained some intriguingly high profile people at his, Club 29 in Glasgow.

f. Such links between the Scottish Labour party and the mob have been raising eyebrows for the last few years. Like the Red Rose Dinner attended by Labour First Minister Jack McConnell and John Reid. It was also attended by a drug dealer by the name of Justin McAlroy who ended up dead six days later. James Mortimer also attended that dinner. His father, Tommy McAlroy, who is a close friend of Labour whip Frank Roy, has also been implicated in drug baronetcy. And it’s also not the first time John Reid – a former Home Secretary for goodness sake – has had family connections reported that raise eyebrows – his father in law was arrested in a drugs bust.

g. So you might be getting an idea why Gordon Brown was not exactly keen on drawing attention to the UK media about a story which has him and numerous senior Labour leaders wining and dining with people who have some seriously dodgy connections and backgrounds. If its full implications broke before the sixth of May it may not just destroy Scottish Labour but bring down Brown. But there are three important questions that still remain unanswered over two weeks after these events broke. These are raised publicly in order that the media in London might do what Glasgow news editors have been too afraid to do.

i. Who is paying for Steven Purcell’s bills? Public relations, top media lawyers, stays in rehab clinics and lengthy trips abroad cost money and Steven is now unemployed – his whereabouts still unknown. Most of his money went up his nose so how is he paying his way. Why did he turn down the help the council’s media officers offered?

ii. Under Steven Purcell’s leadership of Glasgow City Council what deals have the council, City Building LLP and any other arms length organisations set up by the council done – particularly with major Labour donors like James Mortimer, Brian Dempsey and Willie Haughey?

iii. Who was sitting at the top table with Gordon Brown and Steven Purcell at the Labour party fundraiser the night before Steven Purcell’s announcement to his colleagues and did anything happen at the dinner to hasten his departure from the council?


a. Anonymous: “There have been hints that some Scottish newspapers have pulled their punches because editors have been too close to Steven Purcell or worse, have been cowed into submission by Peter Watson (of Levy & McRae) and PR firm Media House.”

b. Anonymous: This is explosive stuff.The newspapers in Scotland have been slow to react and as for the BBC ???? well they have put their heads in the sand in the hope it would go away. The best bet of this all coming out would be if the English media get a whiff of the scandal getting close to Gordon Brown. Gordon Brown was with Purcell the night before he resigned at a Labour party fundraiser. There is a huge story here unfortunately it won’t be the Scottish media who will expose it they are completely entwined with the Labour party in this country.

c. Anonymous: Good summary of the Purcell situation. Unfortunately any disclosures will have to come from the London media as the Scottish media have tried their best to bury the story, and has been hardly mentioned by the BBC.

d. Anonymous: Hopefully the Scottish Labour chickens in Ruin’s roost are coming home. But watch your back. Glasgow Caledonians have Sicilian friends. Ever wondered why frozen Glasgow has so many Italian ice cream parlours and pizza places?

e. cynicalHighlander: Its worse than you elude to when our subsidised public broadcaster in Scotland is suppressing this story as it acts as a Labour party media outlet up here.
The City is one of the most if not the most corrupt local authorities in the UK. We have one private firm City Buildings Ltd wholly owned by the Council buying two x £2,000 Tables at a fund raising function for Glasgow City Labour Party. We find one prominent Labour supporting businessman (donations supposedly into six figures) getting contracts even though it seems his company’s wasn’t the lower tender while in addition there are suggestions of some equally dodgy land deals

f. Its not new either :-when Parkhead Stadium was rebuilt in the 90s Planning Procedures were accelerated, building standards were shortcut. The relationship between Celtic Football Club (Chairman John Reid MP)and Glasgow City Labour Party gives off a stench. Mind you as I read on another blog two weeks ago, “if Gordon Brown nuked the Glasgow housing schemes, the survivors would still vote Labour”

g. cynicalHighlander: Anon “The Herald and Scotsman are both going bust. They wont ask questions because it is public sector advertising which is keeping them alive.” And who blocked the SNP from putting that advertising online all 3 unionist parties. I haven’t bought a newspaper for years as they only have copy and paste journalists rather than grass root journalism.

h. Anonymous: Something stinks in the naked city. Where’s Taggart when you need him.

i. Anonymous: The dinner is the key.

j. Anonymous: If the rumours are true. Do not think that when the influential conduct clandestine meetings in pub car parks with the less influential and socialise with them that it goes unnoticed. I feel that we are in the calmer waters just now but we are about to head into the squalls – The weather will change in the course of the election . I have a gut feeling that this is going to erupt soon, I would be willing to bet on it.

k. redcliffe62: The Scottish media know most, if not the entire, story. The question is, can the Tories get an editor to come over to the dark side, as a drop in labour’s vote will simply increase the number of SNP MP’s and that outcome is not one the Tories seem to want either. Glasgow Times and Herald cannot go against those that pay the bills. The Scotsman is a waste of time as well. The best hope is through McAlpine at the Times. She knows some of the facts, a good story two weeks out from the election methinks.

l. Anonymous: “What Did Gordon Know and When?” Not much and never.

m. Anonymous: City Building has always been corrupt from the time David Angus was the Director, Wullie Docherty has just continued this his taking over. Building Services used to hand back 11 million pounds surplus when part of the Council, now I understand they hand back 2 million, where has all the money gone? hired cars big rises in pay for certain people, how can it work when the head of City Building is married to a Councillor who recently took a large redundancy package from the GHA. Time Docherty went without any big payment.

6. March 28 2010; City Building scandal – Labour Party donor gets massive contract.

a. It seems that the Glasgow Labour Party scandal continues a pace. Another Labour donor has benefiting from contracts, this time from Labour controlled City Building. The news puts renewed pressure for the removal of Willie Docherty to stand down as head of City Building. Docherty is married to a Glasgow Labour Councillor Sadie Docherty. It seems that City Building (Glasgow) LLP has awarded a lucrative contract to AS Scaffolding Ltd. AS Scaffolding is run by Andrew Smillie whose family and firm has donated money to the Labour Party. This news must put pressure also back on Strathclyde Police and Audit Scotland to investigate Glasgow City Council and its ALEOs. People need to know has Labour controlled Glasgow City Council been funneling jobs and contracts to family, friends and associates of the Labour Party. Why are there so many high profile people with Labour Party connections heading Glasgow quangos?

7. April 2 2010; Anger as Glasgow City Council rejects calls for inquiry into Steven Purcell scandal

a. Scotland’s largest council were last night accused of a cover-up after rejecting a bid to have an inquiry into the Steven Purcell scandal. An SNP group motion asking for an independent investigation into “the practices and recent decisions of the council” was kicked out after the ruling Labour group were supported by Lib Dems in voting it down. The city’s SNP leader James Dornan claimed there was an urgent need to examine how former leader Purcell held his job despite it being known he’d admitted taking cocaine and heavy drinking. At a highly-charged meeting, the council instead backed an amendment saying there was no need for an inquiry. After the meeting, Dornan fumed: “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.”

8. April 6 2010; Lib-Lab pact veto inquiry into City Council

a. Councillor David Meikle, a Conservative Councillor on Glasgow City Council, on how his fellow Councillors have blocked an investigation into the Steven Purcell scandal. After weeks of speculation, rumour and allegation, Councillors finally got the chance to debate the recent scandal involving Purcell and Glasgow City Council. The Leader of the Opposition submitted a motion which called for a full statement by the acting Leader and an independent investigation into the affair. The motion was supported by the SNP, Green Party and me. However, after an hour long and bad tempered Council meeting, Labour and Liberal Democrat Councillors voted against the motion.

9. April 10 2010; Police probe former council leader Steven Purcell over £50k grant.

a. Drug shame council boss Steven Purcell is being probed over alleged corruption. It has been claimed the former Glasgow Council leader used undue influence to help friend and fellow Councillor Ruth Black win a £50,000 contract. An elite team of detectives are now investigating the claims, which it is understood follow a confidential tip-off this week to opposition SNP Councillors. The development is the first confirmed police involvement in the Purcell affair since his dramatic fall from grace last month. The 37-year-old political high-flier suffered a breakdown and details of his cocaine use emerged.

b. The Record understand a confidential source supplied the SNP with potentially incriminating information over the award of the running of the city’s publicly funded lesbian and gay drop-in centre. The Nats tipped off police, who put their Major Crimes and Terrorism Investigation Unit on the case. Officers are said to be examining claims about links between Purcell and Black, who friends say regularly socialised together. Glasgow City Council chief executive George Black and the council’s legal chief Ian Drummond have been made aware of the claims and ordered their own probe.

9. April 22 2010; John Mason Discusses Steven Purcell & Glasgow City Council

a. SNP Glasgow East Candidate John Mason discusses the recent allegations made against Glasgow City Council and former Council leader Steven Purcell, as well as Strathclyde Police’s decision to investigate matters, in his most recent video blog.

10. May 11 2010; Steven Purcell scandal refuses to disappear

a. Councillors in Glasgow have elected a new leader and hope the move will put an end to the recent revelations of sleaze and scandal which followed the resignation of former boss Steven Purcell. Councillor Matheson will now be handed the difficult task of rebuilding the reputation of the ruling Labour group on the council after the Purcell scandal saw it tainted by accusations of drug dealing, cronyism and links to the city’s criminal underworld. Openly gay and in a civil partnership with a long-standing partner, Mr Matheson admitted that there were “tough times ahead for the council” but insisted that he was “prepared to make the decisions”. Mr Matheson takes over from interim leader Jim Coleman, who has presided since the sudden departure of Mr Purcell, who resigned in March in one of the most bizarre political scandals of recent years.

11. June 4 2010; Steven Purcell quizzed by police over drug confession.

a. Disgraced former council boss Steven Purcell has been quizzed by police amid a probe into his admissions of drug-taking. The former Glasgow City Council leader spent several hours being questioned at a police station near his home. The probe is understood to be ongoing and is connected with his self-confessed cocaine use and other issues relating to his time as council leader. A family source said: “Steven returned home last week and was interviewed by Strathclyde Police about his admission of drug taking and other matters. “It was an intensive interview. We just have to wait and see what happens now.”

b. We revealed in April that detectives had launched an investigation into the ex-council boss. Police have been weighing up the case against the 37-year-old since he admitted in an interview that he took the class A drug. It is believed the inquiry will also cover allegations surrounding contracts awarded by the council. As well as questioning Purcell, who is believed to have been in Ireland, it’s thought detectives will quiz senior Councillors and top officials at the City Chambers. He could be reported to the procurator fiscal, who would decide if he should face trial. Purcell, who was tipped as a future first minister, stood down as Glasgow council leader in March, citing “stress and exhaustion”.

12. June 17 2010; Top Scots politician quits after lecherous comments about ‘dark, dusky’ girl, 15, in public gallery are picked up on parliament microphones

a. Labour MSP Frank McAveety has resigned from two high profile parliamentary positions after he was caught referring to a member of a parliamentary committee audience as “attractive” and “dark and dusky”.

b. McAveety is Labour’s former Sports Minister who championed the case for Sportscotland’s HQ to be relocated from Edinburgh to the Parkhead site of a new National Arena, despite 90% of Sportscotland’s employees expressing their desire to stay in Edinburgh,

c. McAveety is a season ticket holder at Celtic Park , as are Willie Haughey, Steven Purcell and Ron Culley. Jack McConnell is a regular guest.

d. McAveety, Haughey and Culley were at the forefront of the campaign for the M74 extension which improved Road links to Parkhead. 3 days after McConnell and McAveety announced the relocation of Sport Scotland to land adjacent to Celtic Park.

13. July 5 2010; Steven Purcell to take up new charity post.

a. Disgraced former Glasgow City Council leader Steven Purcell is to take up a role with a leading Scottish charity. Purcell resigned from his high-profile role in March amid drug and potential blackmail issues. But he will begin work for the Stewart and McKenna Foundation before the police probe into his activities is completed. The Daily Record exclusively revealed Purcell’s links to a Glasgow drop-in centre, The Castro gay and lesbian centre, on Saturday. It is frequented by convicted gun runner Paul Ferris and has other links to the Glasgow underworld.

b. In the wake of his resignation Purcell, 37, admitted to having “dabbled” with cocaine and underwent treatment at a rehab clinic. He had been touted as a political “star” and a possible future Labour leader in Scotland. Police began a probe in April but as yet no charges have been brought. Purcell has expressed an interest in doing voluntary work for charitable causes. The foundation was begun in 2004 by property developers Stephen McKenna and Allan Stewart. It funds charitable and social schemes in Burundi, Malawi, Kenya and even Moldova.

14. August 11 2010; What on earth is going on in Glasgow Council?

a. In February 2010, the gathering expenses furore at Strathclyde Partnership for Transport forces the resignation of chair Alistair Watson and chief executive Ron Culley.

b. In March 2010, Steven Purcell, the high-profile Labour Council leader resigns in the midst of a breakdown. He admits previous use of drugs and of being a potential blackmail target by Glasgow gangsters.

c. Controversy surrounds the publicly-owned company City Building, set up by Glasgow Council, and its donations to the Labour Party.

d. July 2010. Labour Councillor Ruth Black is sacked over financial irregularities at the council-funded gay and lesbian centre run by her.

e. August 2010. Labour Councillor Gilbert Davidson is arrested and charged for inappropriate behaviour towards fellow Councillors. It is claimed that Davidson sent offensive voice mails and text messages to former Lord Provost Liz Cameron. Davidson is suspended from the Labour group.

b. These bald facts are bad enough in themselves but, in many ways, they mask the real depth of the problems. The SPT controversy, for example, is much bigger than that simple line above suggests. It has always appeared to be a disturbing example of waywardness with expenses and an apparent disregard for taxpayers’ money which the public will no longer tolerate.

15. September 9 2010; MSP takes Glasgow City Council scandals to Holyrood

a. Anne McLaughlin, SNP MSP for the Glasgow region, has put down a motion to be debated in the Parliament about what she calls a “culture of silence” in Glasgow City Council’s Labour administration and amongst the party leadership. It comes on the back of the flood of scandals in Glasgow City Chambers in recent months. On top of this Labour Party Leader Iain Gray, and Shadow Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy MP, have ignored two letters from Glasgow SNP opposition leader Councillor James Dornan asking them to instigate an internal investigation within the Labour Party.

16. November 19 2010; What’s on the agenda tonight Councillors?

a. The convener of Scotland’s largest police authority was quizzed by cops after being nabbed in a well-known lovers’ lane with a married fellow Councillor. Officers went to investigate after spotting Stephen Curran and Anne McTaggart acting suspiciously in a car in Pollok Park, Glasgow, late at night.


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