Monday 1 August 2011

Return to blogging

The past few months have flown past scarily fast. I never intended to give up blogging - I just couldn't find the time and energy to devote to it. I do think it's important though, and I hope (having given the blog a wee facelift) that I'll manage to stage a return to blogging.

I put a fair bit of effort into establishing and keeping up the blog; with so much going on in my ward, it would be a shame to let it die now. Twitter has been a good medium for sharing news quickly, but it lacks the depth of information or opinion that a good blog post can provide. So please forgive me blogosphere, and watch me fill this space!

1 comment:

dbm4 said...

Police to investigate ex-MSP’s allowances

Paul Hutcheon and Tom Gordon EXCLUSIVE

17 Sep 2011

POLICE are investigating alleged financial irregularities in the Holyrood allowances of former Glasgow Labour MSP Frank McAveety after receiving information from a one-time member of his staff.

Andy Muir, a Glasgow city councillor, was interviewed on Thursday after contacting the police about the use of public money in Mr McAveety’s Shettleston constituency office. The SNP last night urged the police to conduct a “thorough” investigation.

A former Glasgow City Council leader and culture minister, Mr McAveety was a Labour MSP for 12 years until he lost the seat to the SNP in May. He employed several staff to help him with his Scottish Parliament duties, including Mr Muir and another Labour city councillor, Alex Glass.

Mr McAveety said the allegations made against him were “totally without foundation” and said Mr Muir’s contract was terminated after he failed to fulfil the duties expected of him.

It is understood Mr Muir, 31, who worked for Mr McAveety from 2008 to 2010, approached the police earlier this week.

He gave a taped statement to CID officers at Glasgow’s Stewart Street police station.

According to the Scottish Parliament’s allowances database, Mr McAveety claimed £15,486 in 2010-11, £34,192 in 2009-10, and £37,404.31 in 2008-09, for travel, hotels, mileage and office costs. The figures do not include staff costs, which are not made available by the Parliament.

Mr McAveety’s role as culture minister was marred by a row over his late arrival to the chamber, which he said was due to his attendance at a Scottish Arts Council book awards. He was later forced to apologise to Parliament after it was revealed he had actually been in the canteen eating pie and beans.

He lost his job after former First Minister Jack McConnell reshuffled his team.

Although Mr McAveety resurfaced as convener of the Parliament’s petitions committee, he resigned last year after being caught on microphone referring to a young female member of the audience as “dark and dusky” and likening her to a figure from a Gauguin painting. Mr McAveety is tipped for a return in next May’s council elections.

Mr Muir, a Baillieston councillor for Labour since 2008, is a member of Strathclyde Police Authority and vice-chairman of Glasgow’s licensing board. He was recently rejected by Labour in a ruthless sift of candidates for the local elections in Glasgow.

Around 20 other Labour councillors also face deselection as a result of a cull aimed at bringing fresh talent to the City Chambers.

Last night, Mr Muir confirmed his attendance at the police station, saying: “I’m helping the police with their investigations.”

A spokeswoman for Strathclyde Police said: “We can confirm we’ve received a complaint regarding alleged financial irregularities. We are at an early stage of our inquiries and it would be inappropriate for us to comment any further.”

James Dornan, the SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, said: “This is a worrying development and I hope the police will thoroughly investigate any evidence. Labour must ensure that if there is evidence of financial irregularities no-one involved is able to stand in the coming council elections.”

Mr McAveety said last night: “These allegations are totally without foundation. Andy Muir was employed to work in my constituency office but as time went by it became clear he was not fulfilling the duties expected of him. To assist him, we reduced his hours, but eventually we had to terminate his contract.

“I am disappointed in the claims this ex-employee has made because we gave him every opportunity to meet the requirements of his post.”

A spokesman for Scottish Labour said: “These are matters between individual MSPs and parliamentary authorities so political parties have no locus in them and to suggest otherwise is quite false.”