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Labour Asks Police to Probe Union Role in Candidate Choice

July 5 (Bloomberg) -- Britain’s opposition Labour Party has asked the police to investigate whether a union that is one of its largest financial backers tried to improperly influence the selection of a candidate for a safe electoral seat in Scotland.

Labour leader Ed Miliband yesterday suspended Karie Murphy, the Unite union’s preferred candidate for the seat of Falkirk, after an internal investigation into allegations that the selection process had been manipulated, with people signed up to the party without their knowledge. Today the party passed its findings to the police.

Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey yesterday described Murphy’s suspension as a “stitch-up,” and said he had “no trust” in the Labour leadership. Tom Watson, a friend of McCluskey, quit yesterday as the party’s election coordinator, Unite has donated 11.8 million pounds ($17.5 million) of the 60.2 million pounds Labour has received since the 2010 election.

“The Labour party I lead will select its candidates in a fair and transparent way,” Miliband told reporters today. “We will act without fear or favor. Instead of defending what happened in Falkirk, Len McCluskey should be facing up to his responsibilities. He should not be defending the machine politics involving bad practice and malpractice that went on.”

McClusky responded today by saying the two sides needed to “calm this down.”

“Ed Miliband is the leader of our party, there’s no question about that,” he told reporters in Manchester, northern England. “He has my full support and Unite’s full support. That doesn’t mean we agree on everything. We disagree. I’m sure the police have got better things to do.”

Prime Minister David Cameron made much of the Falkirk row during his weekly exchanges with Miliband in Parliament yesterday, repeatedly saying in answers to questions on different subjects that the Labour leader wasn’t standing up to McCluskey.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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