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Police quiz Purcell ally over drugs allegations

Police have questioned one of Steven Purcell’s closest allies over claims of corruption and drug abuse at Glasgow City Council.

Councillor Ruth Black, a personal friend of the disgraced former council leader, visited a police station to discuss allegations that she was unfairly given a £50,000 council contract because of her connection to Mr Purcell.

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Ms Black, 45, was also asked if she had a role in the supply of drugs in Mr Purcell’s circle after the former leader admitted to having taken cocaine in the past.

In addition, she was asked about claims she herself had taken amphetamines. Ms Black denies any wrongdoing.

SNP councillors last week accused Mr Purcell of cronyism over his decision to award a lucrative contract to run a gay and lesbian drop-in centre to Ms Black, ahead of a rival bid from the well-established organisation Glasgay.

The Nationalists were acting on a tip-off which apparently included incriminating evidence about the council leader’s decision to give the contract to his Labour party colleague.

Ms Black had run a previous incarnation of the drop-in centre, but quit in December 2007. The centre went bust at the end of last year with outstanding debts of more than £300,000.

Ms Black was given the go-ahead to run the new centre, angering supporters of Glasgay, which has more than two decades’ experience of working in the city. Ms Black admitted that she went to London Road police station yesterday afternoon after officers contacted her on Tuesday.

Drug allegations against Mr Purcell, she told The Herald, were “the whole raison d’être” of the meeting.

“They asked if I was involved in taking them and passing them to other people as well,” Ms Black said. “Well, of course not.”

She was also questioned over the allegations relating to her bid for the contract to run the drop-in centre, but dismissed the claims as “absolute rubbish”, adding: “I totally deny them.”

The individuals who had tipped off the SNP, Ms Black claimed, were former staff members of the centre who held a grudge against her. She intends to take action against them, she said.

“It did become clear to [the police] as I explained the background that it was two ex-employees who had a massive axe to grind,” said Ms Black.

“That balanced things out, and it was clear it was a very malicious, nasty attempt to get revenge on me.” Ms Black described the on-the- record police interview as “possibly the most horrible experience I’ve ever had”.

She added that she was “devastated” to be caught up in the situation.

No charges have been brought, although Strathclyde Police indicated that they may need to speak to Ms Black again.

A police spokeswoman last night confirmed that the interview had taken place voluntarily.

Glasgow City Council said it would be “inappropriate” to comment.

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