What is it with unions and corruption? Same the world over.
The dodgy union boss accused of rigging Labour selections in the UK is now facing allegations that he fathered a child with another woman, and gave her a cushy job at the union.
No wonder Ed Miliband is moving to limit union power just when New Zealand Labour have extended union power to the selection of their leaders.
The union baron accused of Commons seat rigging is at the centre of a new scandal after a former mistress who gave birth to his child when he was married was given a top job in his union.
Unite union leader Len McCluskey’s ex-lover, Jennie Formby, was last month given the £75,000-a-year post of Unite political director, with the task of getting more union supporters picked as Labour Parliamentary candidates.
She won the job after leading the public defence of Left-winger Mr McCluskey, dubbed ‘Red Len’ by critics, who was accused of trying to rig a Labour selection contest in Falkirk, Scotland, for another union ally and friend, Karie Murphy.
The disclosure is deeply embarrassing for Labour leader Ed Miliband, who is desperate to counter Tory claims he is in the unions’ pockets. He has to face Ms Formby at meetings of Labour’s national executive council.
Ms Formby effectively acts as Mr McCluskey’s spokesman at the NEC. At a meeting, she challenged Mr Miliband, who was present, head-on over his attempt to weaken Labour’s ties with their union paymasters.
Unite helped Mr Miliband become Labour leader in 2010 and has since given Labour £7.5 million from subscriptions paid by its 1.4 million members. Last night a Unite spokesman said: ‘All appointments are authorised and ratified by the union’s executive council.’ He declined to comment further.
Official documents show that in 1991, Ms Formby gave birth to a child by Mr McCluskey, who was married at the time and living in a union-subsidised home, while his wife stayed in his native Liverpool. The Unite general secretary is named as the father.
The disclosure that Ms Formby has been given such a powerful and lucrative post in the union, follows a series of allegations against Mr McCluskey and his union and Labour Party allies, including cronyism.
Union insiders fear the disclosure of his love child with Ms Formby will lead to claims of a conflict of interest.
A senior Unite official told The Mail on Sunday: ‘The existence of McCluskey and Formby’s child is known to a handful of senior figures in the union but not to its members. Many earn a pittance compared to McCluskey and Formby and will be shocked nobody told them about the connection. It helps critics who say the union is run by a clique.’