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Saturday, 19 October, 2002, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
Labour makes audit pledge
Labour HQ plaque
Labour officials are examining the accounts
Scottish Labour Party chiefs are to bring in independent auditors to examine the accounts of First Minister Jack McConnell's constituency.

Labour has already admitted an apparent breach of the law in Motherwell and Wishaw, where regular donations by the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation (ISTC) were not notified.

And on Friday it emerged that there had been apparent breaches of the law in four other Scottish constituencies.

A Scottish Labour spokesman said there were no plans to bring in auditors to look at the books of other constituencies.

John Swinney
John Swinney: "Dragged kicking and screaming"

But said the first minister had asked the party's Scottish general secretary Lesley Quinn to look at ways of tightening up monitoring procedures.

The Scottish National Party has been calling for an independent inquiry since the controversy first broke 11 days ago.

Nationalist leader John Swinney said: "For over a week now Jack McConnell has resisted SNP calls to bring in independent auditors and has been dragged kicking and screaming into handing over the books."

But a spokesman for the Scottish Labour Party denied the party had performed a U-turn.

Concrete plans

He said: "We have never ruled out bringing in independent auditors and the reason was that we were speaking to them."

He said: "Jack McConnell has asked Lesley Quinn as part of her inquiries and looking to the future to look at ways of changing the way auditing is done at a local level.

"But there are no concrete plans at the moment."

The auditors, who have not been identified, were first contacted by Labour last week and will begin examining the first minister's constituency accounts on Monday.

John Swinney said independent auditors should be called into probe the books of other Labour constituency parties.


What is needed is a full scale investigation into Labour's cash crisis by the Electoral Commission

SMP leader John Swinney
He said: "With confirmation that constituency Labour parties across Scotland have broken the law, this does not go far enough.

"What is needed is a full scale investigation into Labour's cash crisis by the Electoral Commission."

Scots Tory leader David McLetchie said Labour had lost the trust of the people and that the country was suffering because of the ongoing controversy.

He said: "The Labour Party throughout Britain are now in financial and administrative chaos."

Under scrutiny

Since February last year all donations of more than 1,000 - or totalling more than 1,000 from one source in the course of a year - must be notified to the Electoral Commission.

But Labour said earlier this week that the Motherwell and Wishaw party had not notified party headquarters in London of the ISTC donations.

The party said it had established that 36 constituencies in Scotland had agreements with unions or the Co-operative Party of the type under scrutiny in Motherwell and Wishaw.

Eight of these involved donations that have not been declared, said a spokesman.

Five of the eight were apparently not declared in breach of Electoral Commission rules, and the other three were in breach of Labour rules.

See also:

18 Oct 02 | Scotland
18 Oct 02 | Scotland
16 Oct 02 | Scotland
15 Oct 02 | Scotland
15 Oct 02 | Scotland
14 Oct 02 | Scotland
13 Oct 02 | Scotland
11 Oct 02 | Scotland
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