EIGHT Better Together figures are supporting Jim Murphy's leadership bid, deepening suspicions that the pro-UK body "shamelessly" promoted the MP during the referendum.

Campaign director Blair McDougall, chairman Alistair Darling and several members of the group's spin machine are trying to help install Murphy as Johann Lamont's successor.

The venue hosting Murphy's campaign launch in Edinburgh also stated that the client for yesterday's event was Better Together.

In June, the Sunday Herald revealed how party powerbrokers wanted Murphy to replace Lamont as leader. Lamont's allies grew to believe Better Together was deliberately giving Murphy as much exposure as possible.

McDougall, who was the most senior staffer at Better Together, has now been enlisted as an adviser to the East Renfrewshire MP.

Rob Shorthouse, who was the group's director of communications, also provided support on a temporary basis by getting Murphy's campaign up and running.

Kate Watson, who is still employed by the campaign group, helped organise yesterday's launch at the Royal College of Surgeons. The venue named Watson as the contact for the event and Better Together as the client.

A source close to Lamont said: "They deserve to be at the launch. They have been working on this for the last six months."

An SNP spokesperson said: "After the weeks of plotting against Johann Lamont that forced her out of office, it is no surprise that there is clearly a great deal of continued ill-feeling towards those who brought her down. This ongoing political manoeuvring simply confirms that people in Labour remain far more interested in jockeying for position than meeting the aspirations of people in Scotland."

A spokesman for Murphy's campaign declined to comment on suggestions Better Together had been promoting the MP during the referendum.

He added: "The guy at the venue knew Kate from Better Together and assumed it was another Better Together event. The client is Jim's campaign and the invoice is to Jim's campaign."