By Margaret Little
Labour Group leader on East Ayrshire Council, Maureen McKay and fellow Labour Councillor John McGhee have had writs served on them by one of Scotland’s leading property investment and development firms, the Klin Group. 
The writs were served after false claims were contained in a letter to a local newspaper written by Mr McGhee.

The Labour councillor sparked controversy with his letter to the Kilmarnock Standard in which he claimed that the cost of an office development involving the Klin Group had been kept secret by the ruling SNP administration.

The councillor said: “I cannot disclose how much all this cost the council tax payer as the details are contained within secret papers.”

The development, in Kilmarnock Town Centre, is on the site of the old Opera House. 

However the claims by Councillor McGhee were revealed to be untrue after it emerged that papers surrounding the development were already in the public domain.

Details of the development had in fact gone through at a meeting attended by Labour Group leader Councillor Maureen McKay 18 months previously.

The Klin Group issued a writ against Councillor McGhee as a result of the false claims.

After being served with the writ, Councillor McGhee submitted a further letter to the local paper issuing an apology, but bizarrely claiming that he had been misquoted by the Kilmarnock Standard.

In the ensuing row the paper claimed not to have edited the letter in a manner that would have left it materially different to that which Councillor McGhee had written.  The paper then revealed that the letter had been received by email and it had originated from the email account of Labour Group Leader Maureen McKay.

SNP councillor Jim Buchanan then demanded an explanation from the Labour leader saying: “There are two explanations for this.  Either she was the author or she approved this letter before it was sent.”

He then asked Councillor McKay: “Who sent the letter which attacked this administration, officers and a local development company and will she apologise?”

Councillor McKay’s responded: “I have no comment to make,” prompting Councillor Buchanan to respond: “A shameful answer.  No remorse from the Labour group and no apology, which is disgraceful.”

The episode has resulted in the Labour group leader herself being served with a writ.

It isn’t the first time Councillor John McGhee has been involved in controversy after attacking the integrity of council officers.  In November last year Newsnet Scotland revealed that the same Labour councillor had been condemned after accusing senior council officers of “deceit” and “bias”.

The allegations followed a report from Audit Scotland that praised reforms brought in by the new SNP administration after the ruling Labour group were defeated in the 2007 council election.  The reforms followed an investigation carried out in 2008 into practices at the council’s building and works department.

The investigation led to the dismissal or resignation of several staff including the then boss of buildings and works, John Walker.

The investigation was prompted by claims involving ‘homers’, inappropriate use of council vehicles and materials and even charging individual council tenants for repairs.  Questions also arose over the way that building and works charged for its services.

The investigation led to new practices being put in place by the SNP which led to annual savings totalling several million pounds.  The new practices were independently verified by Audit Scotland and also the housing regulator.

Audit Scotland commented that it was the first wholly positive report for any council Direct Labour Organisation (DLO).


Thee Forsaken One
2012-04-07 02:21

It’s nice to see that sometimes Labour’s love of lying gets them into genuine trouble. It’s a shame Labour in most places has way too much influence for that to happen.

It’s good to see a credible SNP administration doing good somewhere. Hopefully it will give people an incentive to vote SNP in for other local authorities.
2012-04-07 07:57

O/T For me this article from articulates why we should all be voting Yes in 2014 to stop scandals like this.…/…
Robert Louis
2012-04-07 08:11

Exactly. I thought this kind of thing had ended when the Tories were last booted out of power, but sadly, little changed under Labour.

Westminster has failed.

We here in Scotland have a chance in 2014 to forge a new nation, which can do better to look after the weak, the vulnerable and ALL our children. What an exciting time it will be.
2012-04-07 09:21

Unfortunately the main UK political parties are more interested in power than people.

2012-04-07 09:44

Re the O/T – Still plenty of money for nuclear squibs and sundry wars Alic. The trouble with famines is that it scars the current and next generations. Something that the UK Gov will be proud of, I’m sure.
2012-04-07 10:36

I hope that Scots waken up to the fact that Britain is not only broken but broke and that Scotland’s future interests lie in separation from an institution which is determined to break up the welfare state and eradicate any form of social care which increases costs to business.
Breaking up is NOT hard to do in these circumstances.

2012-04-07 09:55

Maybe the good folk of Edinburgh will demand that their council propety repairs department be sacked en masse and replaced by some of the competent SNP folk in the East Ayrshire Council.

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