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Ex-Labour Falkirk hopeful: I didn't recruit new members wrongly

Karie Murphy, the failed prospective Falkirk Labour parliamentary candidate at the centre of allegations about voting irregularities, has rejected the findings of an internal party inquiry which found evidence that members were recruited in an attempt to manipulate processes.

Ms Murphy was temporarily suspended from the party but was later re-instated after an investigation into the allegations engulfing the Falkirk constituency last year.

Unite official Stevie Deans had stood accused of helping to secure the safe seat for her for the Westminster elections by packing the local party with its supporters.

Ed Miliband has previously rejected calls to publish the findings of the inquiry which was commissioned by the party's national executive committee, which will today debate plans to reform Labour's historic link with the trade unions.

However, last night the 20-page document was published by a newspaper after being leaked. It claimed that there was evidence that members were recruited without their knowledge and "pressured" into completing direct debit forms.

The document stated that Ms Murphy had "badgered" one woman, Lorraine Kane, to complete a direct debit mandate. Michael Kane was quoted in the report as saying that Ms Murphy had visited their home and asked them to sign the form before she took it away with her. Mrs Kane later made an affidavit clarifying her comments and suggesting she had never meant to allege any wrongdoing.

Ms Murphy, in her first statement since she withdrew as candidate, was last night quoted as saying: "None of the allegations were supported by evidence. I didn't recruit the Kanes or ask them to sign recruitment forms."

Labour was forced to select a new Falkirk candidate after sitting MP Eric Joyce pleaded guilty to assault and left the party.

The allegations, which were said to have been raised by another prospective candidate Linda Gow, centred on claims that Mr Deans had attempted to help Unite secure a safe Labour seat for its preferred candidate, Ms Murphy. It was said that local people had been signed up as Labour members without their knowledge.

The 20-page report published last night said there was "written evidence that at least eight persons did not know what they were signing when they were 'recruited'". It also said there was evidence that "signatures were forged on either application forms or direct debit mandates or other documents".

"There can be no doubt that members were recruited in an attempt to manipulate party processes," it said.

"There is sufficient evidence to raise concern about the legitimacy of members qualifying to participate in the selection."

Police Scotland announced last month it was dropping its investigation into emails at the centre of the Falkirk allegations after finding no evidence of wrongdoing. At the time, Len McCluskey, Unite's general secretary, said that the decision to take no further action had "vindicated" the union's position that it had done nothing wrong.

A solicitor for Mr Deans, who was also later re-instated to the Labour party, said: "Our client has been completely exonerated on two separate occasions by the police and separately by the Labour party. There is no case to answer as has been clearly shown."

In December, Karen Whitefield was chosen at Labour's candidate for Falkirk for the general election in 2015.

A Labour spokesman said: "We have selected a candidate in the constituency. The important thing now for the people of Falkirk is that we concentrate on getting a Labour MP elected to represent them."

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