Statement from North East Lib Dems & Dr Jonathan Wallace, Lib Dem candidate for Police & Crime Commissioner for Northumbria
Following further reports in today's Sunday Times, North East Liberal Democrats are calling on Labour North to suspend Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck, Labour's frontbench spokesperson on trade unions, pending the outcome of investigations into loans and payments received by Mr Lavery in respect of his former employment as the union's General Secretary.
Mr Lavery is already the subject of a parliamentary standards investigation in relation to non-declaration of interests regarding his mortgage. Evidence assembled by the Sunday Times suggests that there are serious questions about whether the union's finances were managed in the best interests of its members, and whether appropriate rules covering political donations, declaration of parliamentary interests, and trade union certification have been complied with.
Pressure is growing on Mr Lavery to give a full explanation of his involvement in the financial affairs of the union's Northumberland branch. Mr Lavery has failed to fully answer questions about his actions as General Secretary in respect of redundancy payments, mortgage arrangements, political donations, disbursement of union funds, and compliance with trade union certification rules.
Liberal Democrat candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria Dr Jonathan Wallace said:
"Recent Sunday Times reports have raised important questions about the current and former Labour MPs for Wansbeck and whether their actions in their capacity as union officials have been in the best interests of the union's members. It is manifestly in the public interest that revelations about the NUM's Northumberland branch, its Benevolent Fund, and the role of the current and former Labour MPs for Wansbeck receive the fullest possible scrutiny. So far, Mr Lavery's public statements have not adequately addressed questions that have been put to him.
For this reason I have asked the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, the Electoral Commission, and the Certification Officer responsible for regulating trade unions to fully investigate concerns relating to non-declaration of interests, non-registration of political donations, and non-compliance with trade union regulations.Given the seriousness of these investigations, we call upon Labour North to take steps to suspend Mr Lavery from the party whilst these allegations are fully investigated.
We also invite the leader of the Labour party to state whether he considers Mr Lavery's actions are compatible with him continuing in his position as the Opposition frontbench spokesperson on trade unions."