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Tuesday, 30 October, 2001, 00:08 GMT
Labour admits McLeish office 'error'
Henry McLeish
Mr McLeish was 'unaware' his office address was used
The Labour party has admitted that it broke the rules in using First Minister Henry McLeish's constituency office as a contact point during a local election campaign.

It is now writing to all constituency parties to remind them of the regulations governing party political use of constituency offices.

The party claims Mr McLeish was unaware that his office address had been used in election literature in 1994-95 when he was MP for Central Fife.

Mr McLeish's agent in the 1999 Scottish Parliament elections said that the first minister's office was not used for party political campaigning.

The fresh admission comes after it was revealed on Sunday that the police will investigate claims that Mr McLeish received office allowances he was not entitled to.

Fife Police
Fife Police investigated a complaint

Fife Constabulary opened their probe into the so-called officegate affair after a formal complaint was lodged by a former detective in the Scottish Crime Squad.

That complaint centred on the allegation that Mr McLeish sublet part of his Westminster constituency office in Glenrothes, Fife, but continued to claim full expenses.

Mr McLeish had already admitted making claims for expenses to which he was not entitled to cover office costs when he was a Labour MP.

Last week the first minister admitted he made "an error" and agreed to pay back 9,000 to the Commons Fees office.

And he told the Scottish Parliament he considered the matter closed.

Local government elections

The Labour Party's latest admission comes after the Scottish Tories accused Mr McLeish of allowing his Westminster constituency office in Glenrothes, Fife, to be used by the Labour party during the local government elections in 1994 and 1995.

Mr McLeish denied the allegations by the Tories, describing the evidence as flimsy.

But later the Labour party admitted it did give Mr McLeish's office address as a contact point.

It said it was a requirement under electoral law for the returning officer to have contact details, and that political parties often give the address of the MPs office.

Mr McLeish's agent during the 1999 parliamentary elections, John McFarlane, said: "The publication of a leaflet with Mr McLeish's address on it was an error which I regret.

"It should not have happened. I now understand that in fact the address on it should really have been my home address as his agent.

"Mr McLeish knew nothing about this. His constituency office was not used at all for party political campaigning during the 1999 campaign.

"I hope this clarifies the position."


The Central Fife CLP has accepted that a mistake was made when Mr McLeish's address was so used, and the local party has also made it clear that Mr McLeish himself was not made aware that this has happened

Labour's Scottish general secretary Lesley Quinn
The party has admitted it made a mistake in this case and is now writing to all constituency parties to remind them of the rules.

Lesley Quinn, Scottish general secretary of the Labour Party said: "The Central Fife CLP has accepted that a mistake was made when Mr McLeish's address was so used, and the local party has also made it clear that Mr McLeish himself was not made aware that this has happened."

The Tories say there are still too many unanswered questions about all the allegations surrounding Mr McLeish and the running of his constituency office.

Scottish Tory leader David McLetchie said: "Frankly if the first minister has nothing to hide then he has nothing to fear and a full disclosure of the facts would be very welcome."

Mr McLeish stood down as MP for Central Fife at June's general election to concentrate on his work as a member of the Scottish Parliament.

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Brian Taylor reports
"The Tories said Mr McLeish's answers were not good enough"

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