A COUNCILLOR who claims to have been offered a bribe to join Labour and sway a leader election in exchange for ‘any’ taxpayer-funded role on the Council he wanted, has now sparked a police investigation.
Former Conservative, now Independent Councillor Pat McGinley divulged the shocking allegation at last month’s annual meeting of Hyndburn Council in Lancashire.
McGinley said that he had been approached by former MP Graham Jones who desperately tried to persuade him to join the party so he could vote for Cllr Melissa Fisher, who was standing to replace sitting Labour council leader Miles Parkinson.
“At the Lancashire County Council count on Saturday 7th May 2021, I was approached by the Lancashire Labour election co-ordinator, Graham Jones” McGinley told his fellow councillors at the meeting. “He said to me that I was wasting my time as an Independent Conservative and that I could have a greater effect on the politics of the town if I was a Labour councillor.
“He directly urged me to join the Labour party in the next few days, keeping my role as councillor for Overton.
“I was clearly told I could have my choice of what committees I wanted to go on, and, more especially, I was promised I could pick any committee I wished to be the chairman of.
“This was all on condition I must vote for Melissa Fisher in an upcoming Labour leadership challenge/election.”
This week, Cll Leader Parkinson told the Cabinet: “I can report that following the statements made at council highlighting concerns about financial inducement, all matters have been referred to the police so that we can uncover any improper activity or alternatively receive the appropriate reassurance.”
The complaint, made by Hyndburn Council’s chief executive David Welsby to the police constabulary’s Chief Inspector, is currently under investigation, with a police spokesman confirming that “enquiries are ongoing.”
Conservative Cllr Peter Britcliffe who also represents the constituency said: “It certainly seems that someone thinks something criminal may be going on.
“It is a pretty pass when the internal divisions of the Labour Party end up in the hands of the police.
“I don’t think this is good for the democratic process in Hyndburn.”
A Labour Party spokesman said: “Graham Jones denies the claims made by Mr McGinlay. The allegations are serious and are being actioned.”
Cllr Fisher, who told the meeting she knew nothing of Cllr McGinley’s claims, declined to comment.