TWO Labour councillors facing disciplinary hearings over allegations of plotting a coup with SNP rivals and describing colleagues as "puppets and parasites" have quit the party.

North Lanarkshire's Gary O'Rorke and Frank McKay informed Labour's national leadership there were resigning from the party on the eve of both the hearings and selection meetings by their local branches.

Mr O'Rorke had been accused of attempting to oust the council's recently installed leadership with the assistance of the SNP and other ex-Labour councillors, while Mr McKay sent an email to party figures describing colleagues as "a bunch of lazy, money-grabbing, useless parasites".  It comes amid ongoing fallout from allegations of corruption within the council, deep factional and political divisions within Labour on the authority and the recent de-selection of a number of party veterans ahead of next year's local government elections.

It has also been rocked by allegations of a cover-up by the council's leadership of a child pornography charge against fellow Labour councillor David Fagan on the eve of a by-election.

Mr O'Rorke had been chosen to stand again as a North Lanarkshire Labour candidate but with a warning over future conduct, whilst Mr McKay had been de-selected before appealing to Labour's national executive committee, which re-instated him.

However, both announced on Friday they had left Labour, joining four others who walked earlier this year after being demoted by new leader Jim Logue.

A senior source said: "The council leadership had asked to meet with Gary O'Rorke following allegations that he had met with the SNP group leader and an independent member about a motion of no confidence in the administration, which is a disciplinary offence.

"Frank McKay sent an email at 4am to all elected members personally attacking his colleagues, which is also a disciplinary offence.

"It is no surprise that both have resigned at this time rather than face scrutiny from their own local party members at Thursday's councillor selection meeting."

In a series of emails sent to party officials at 4am earlier this month, Mr McKay described Labour colleagues as "a lot of puppets" who were presiding over "the ruination of a great council and watching it move into the Nats".

The email adds: "The lot of you are a joke. God help the labour party, (sic) what happened to Socialism with you lot of Puppets at the helm, socialism is now according to our esteem Leader and his Honest and Transparent Leadership Team".

It is understood Mr McKay had been asked to apologise for the email before he quit.

The Herald attempted to contact both councillors but none were available.

However, David Stocks, leader of the SNP on North Lanarkshire Council, confirmed he had recently met with Mr O'Rorke and another ex-Labour councillor over a no confidence motion.

Mr Stocks added that the issue was scheduled for discussion by the SNP group and local branches last night (Monday).

He said: "If we do have a motion of no confidence it will be a matter for the group to vote on. But do we want to get involved in this mess just now when we've every confidence that we will win the council in May?"  A North Lanarkshire Labour group spokesman said:"Cllr O'Rorke and Cllr McKay had been asked to attend a meeting with the leadership of the council to discuss alleged serious disciplinary matters.

"Whilst arrangements were being made to do so, both informed the General Secretary that they were resigning from the party."

"This will not impact on preparations in any way as North Lanarkshire Labour build on a strong platform of fighting against poverty and inequality, standing up for those most in need and an ensuring an open and transparent council as we head into May's elections."  A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “We thank Frank and Gary for their service."