New allegations of fraud and interference with party investigations emerge from Falkirk West

by Atul Hatwal

For the past few days, the debacle in Falkirk West has been the main news story relating to the Labour party. The allegations of entryism by Unite are well known as is Labour’s response: to place the constituency in special measures and bar anyone who joined after 12th March 2012 from voting in the parliamentary selection.

But, new information has emerged that suggests the problems maybe even more serious. The latest allegations centre on a potential breach of the 2006 fraud act and a subsequent attempt to induce those who had complained , to change their testimony before the national party could investigate.

The Unite defence against claims of foul play in the constituency has been that the recruitment of union members, with their annual subscription paid by the union, is within party rules.

This is true, but only on the condition that the new members would actually be willing to pay the subscription themselves and want to join the Labour party to participate as individuals, not as part of a bloc interested only in manipulating selection processes.

In terms of payment of subscriptions, the rules are clear:

“It is an abuse of party rules for one individual or faction to ‘buy’ party membership for other individuals or groups of individuals who would otherwise be unwilling to pay their own subscriptions. “ Clause II Membership procedures, Chapter 2 Membership rules, Labour party rulebook 2013

As they are on the motivation of new recruits for joining the party,

“iii. The party is anxious to encourage the recruitment of new members and to ensure that new members are properly welcomed into the party and opportunities offered to enable their full participation in all aspects of party life.

iv. The party is, however, concerned that no individual or faction should recruit members improperly in order to seek to manipulate our democratic procedures.

v. The health and democracy of the party depends on the efforts and genuine participation of individuals who support the aims of the party, wish to join the party and get involved with our activities. The recruitment of large numbers of ‘paper members’, who have no wish to participate except at the behest of others in an attempt to manipulate party processes, undermines our internal democracy and is unacceptable to the party as a whole.” Sub-sections (iii)-(v), Section A, Appendix 2 NEC procedural guidelines on membership recruitment and retention, Labour party rulebook 2013

The party investigation into Falkirk West was prompted by complaints made by two families who mysteriously found that they had suddenly become Labour party members, despite never signing the forms to join the party.

They complained to the local party, to local councillors, and sources suggest, the police.

There’s no question: these families were unwilling to pay their own subscriptions and did not want to join the party. They had no idea why they were members.

The breach of Labour party rules in this case is bad enough, but more seriously it has emerged that there is also likely to have been a breach of criminal law.

Whoever completed the families’ bogus applications and validated them will have will have contravened section 2 of the 2006 fraud act under the terms of “false misrepresentation.”

The act defines “false misrepresentation” as someone who,

“(a) dishonestly makes a false representation, and (b) intends, by making the representation, to gain for himself or another or causes loss to another/exposes another to a risk of loss”  Subsection 1, Section 2, Fraud Act 2006

Submitting completed forms to the Labour party for these families, without their knowledge, constituted misrepresentation, while the expectation that the families were prepared to pay their own annual subscription exposed them to the “risk of loss.”

Legal sources have confirmed to Uncut that if local members of Unite or the CLP signed up new recruits to the Labour party in this way, they will have breached the act and broken the law.

As the imbroglio in Falkirk West began to spin out of control earlier this year and the national party began its investigations into allegations of bogus membership applications, Uncut understands that an attempt was then made to persuade the families to change their story and say they had intended to join the party.

Both families were visited by senior members from the Unite faction in the local Labour party before they could be interviewed by the two-person NEC inquiry team, with this in mind.

However, these attempts to interfere with the complainants backfired and in one case, the intervention was angrily rebuffed by the family.

The result is a situation where it seems that the law has likely been broken with an attempt to subvert a national party inquiries.

In the light of these new developments, it is difficult for the party to simply move on without further investigation or comment.

If an individual or a group locally in Falkirk West have broken the law, and the NEC inquiry has found evidence of this illegality then it is incumbent on the party to hand over the files to the police and allow the law to take its course.

If local members of Unite or the party attempted to interfere with investigations by the national party, Labour will need to uphold its own rules on the proper conduct in these situations.

Actions must have consequences.  Otherwise the law of the land and the rules of the party are meaningless.

Atul Hatwal is editor at Uncut

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14 Responses to “New allegations of fraud and interference with party investigations emerge from Falkirk West”

  1. John Moss says:

    If the Times story about Mike Hedges in Ilford North is correct, he is in clear breach of the Clause II. Equivalent of “Treating” at an election, which of course is a CRIMINAL offence.

  2. John Reid says:

    Maybe Owen jones could be the new candidate,it kills 2 birds with one stone, someone Ed doesn’t want to criticise and someone Unite wants to do their bidding

  3. Compost says:

    Here’s an idea; Unite back the Labour Party, and the Tory-Lite London-esq Labour Millionaire politicians (I’m looking at you Ed) form a new party based on their genuine beliefs, which is, to screw the poor.

    Then the real Labour Party can get back to having some principles and represent real working class people.

  4. bob says:

    Compost says: The Labour Party hasn’t had principles since it embraced the war monger Blair as its leader.

    Maybe the police need to investigate what has happened as it appears there is the potential for electoral fraud.

  5. John Reid says:

    What bob said.

    Also compost, do you recall when the SDP left do you think they were fit to leave,were you happy with that, it took 4 million votes from labour, as that’s what you’re suggesting now

    John moss, if this is true we’re f&&ked

  6. Bairn says:

    great idea compost.

    One quibble – once Unite have bought our MP, who the hell is going to represent us poor buggers in the constituency?

  7. uglyfatbloke says:

    What dies it matter? The Scottish legal industry will never let this become a case. Moreover, whether the candidate is appointed by Unite or by Labour HQ, the constituency will be lost to the gnats anyway.

  8. McCurry says:

    I doubt if the police would get involved unless the party made a complaint to them. However, to clarify the likely offences:

    The “gain” under the fraud act would be the membership of the party, or the consequent influence over the selection, or both. There isn’t an obvious “loss”, unless a competing candidate made the complaint.

    “Perverting the course of justice” can happen before a police enquiry has started, so that could be a charge as well.

  9. Terry Casey says:

    There is talk about buying MPs, is this a joke? they have all been bought and have interests other than their constituents, Parliament is a farce and the poor are paying the price, Workers have been financially raped, our NHS is being sold off and MP after MP more than ever stand up and fleetingly mention a vested interest, It is undemocratic should be illegal they are selling my vote every time they vote for a vested interest

  10. paul barker says:

    As an outsider, I am puzzled by Mccluskeys tactics. The way Unite have handled this seems really stupid unless they know something we dont. Just suppose The Union has evidence suggesting Labour may go bankrupt soon, Affiliated bodies could be liable for any debts. The safe course might be to get themselves thrown out.

  11. bob says:

    paul barker: Interesting supposition, is not McClusky on the board of the Co-op bank or one of its affiliates?

    This is getting murkier as it goes on, will Miliband stand up and make an honest declaration of his and the party’s position, or will he wait to be told what to say by Unite and Tom Watson.

  12. James says:

    “Submitting completed forms to the Labour party for these families, without their knowledge, constituted misrepresentation, while the expectation that the families were prepared to pay their own annual subscription exposed them to the “risk of loss.” ”

    That’s a ridiculous stretch. How can this possibly be criminal? There isn’t any financial motive.

  13. Gordon Guthrie says:

    If you were to actually read the Fraud Act you would see that is doesn’t apply to Scotland.

    See Section 15

  14. Chip Timber says:

    You are all talking crap. After a lifetime in the Party I have seen many many similar instances [some much worse] and almost all to keep out the Unions, or try at least.

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