Wednesday, April 14, 1999 Published at 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK
Edinburgh air miles row
Allegations of in-fighting have hit Edinburgh City Council's Labour group
An internal row appears to have broken out within the Labour Party on Edinburgh City Council over allegations about the use of air miles for personal travel.
The row centres on the Lord Provost Eric Milligan and has come at the start of the local authority election campaign.
An anonymous letter sent to a local radio station said the Lord Provost and his wife flew to Paris for the France v. Scotland rugby match using airmiles accumulated while on council business.
It also said they used air miles for a Christmas shopping trip to New York.
Mr Milligan is said to have accused another Labour councillor, Brian Weddell, of writing the letter. Mr Weddell has refused to comment other than to deny the allegations.
An investigation by the council's Chief Executive Tom Aitchison concluded that the allegations claims were unfounded.
But a council spokesman said: "The Lord Provost is not even a member of an airmiles club. When he went to Paris he went on Eurostar and when he went to New York he took a charter flight with Continental Airways and again airmiles are not valid on those journeys."
Council insiders say the row is a sign of the in-fighting among Labour councillors over which faction should lead the group after the elections.
Mr Milligan is reported to have blamed Mr Weddell at a meeting on Tuesday involving senior members of the council's ruling Labour group and also the party's Scottish General Secretary Alex Rowley.
Lord Provost Milligan refused to comment on claims that he had accused Councillor Weddell of writing the anonymous letter.
"I did have a meeting to confirm to the senior Labour group the outcome of the chief executive's inquiries," he said.
"They were informed of the content of the letter and were horrified that such allegations were being made. I was able to assure them that the allegations were entirely untrue."
The anonymous letter said that Mr Milligan and two other senior councillors had breached local authority guidelines by collecting air miles while on council business to finance private trips.
On the trip to New York, Councillor Milligan caused controversy when he was criticised for extolling the delights of transatlantic shopping while neglecting the attractions of his own city.