Council threatens to throw the book at author

SCOTLAND'S biggest council and a former lord provost are threatening legal action over explosive claims in a new book that corruption and hypocrisy are widespread.

Niall Walker, a former Liberal Democrat councillor in Glasgow, has attempted to take revenge on his Labour enemies in a hard-hitting, self-published book which has made its way on to the shelves of at least one major bookstore in the city.

Halls Of Infamy, which is also available online, is littered with Walker's claims of alleged malpractice he encountered during four years in the city chambers. But Glasgow City Council last night hit back, revealing it was consulting lawyers about whether to take action over the claims. Borders bookstore said it would decide tomorrow whether to remove the 4.95, 120-page paperback from its shelves.

The key allegations in Halls Of Infamy, all of which are flatly denied by the council, include:

• The "sale" of pub licences for 2,000

• Some councillors and officials routinely accepting bribes

• Threats made by a former lord provost

• Hypocrisy on the part of some councillors who urged the public to use public transport while travelling in council limousines.

Walker, who latterly sat as an independent, relinquished his seat last year and turned his attention to "blowing the whistle" on what he claims is a culture of corruption within Scotland's biggest city.

Walker claims in his book: "One councillor, the previous lord provost, threatened me with revenge. As he had a previous criminal record for assault, I was quite concerned."

The Justice of the Peace also made the accusation that pub licences could be "bought". He claims: "The more I experienced the planning committee, the more convinced I became that corruption was involved. The old story of brown envelopes being thrust into sweaty palms is not a fiction.

"I have received phone calls from architects and publicans who confirm that councillors and officials in some cases have a price list for a favourable vote in committee. Some councillors just come out with it, no beating about the bush, and some are obviously more circumspect.

"I heard from a publican that it cost 2,000 to get a licence."

Walker also claimed that the city administration that he served under was hypocritical and set a poor example.

"The majority of Glasgow's councillors are overweight, many are obese. They do little exercise and go everywhere in council limousines. They tell Glaswegians to use public transport or cycle but don't practise what they preach. They also lecture people on healthy eating; I used to see them stuffing their faces with cream cakes in our canteen."

Walker's thin tome is being sold in shops, including Borders in Royal Exchange Square, under the nom de plume James MacDonald, but on his blog Walker makes clear the book is his work.

Last night, former lord provost Alex Mosson, who held the position between 1999 and 2003 and is now retired, said he was clearly identified in the book. Mosson served time in the 1960s for housebreaking, shoplifting and assault but strongly denied the allegations made against him by Walker.

He said: "This is a very serious allegation and one that is absolutely ridiculous. Never at any time would I threaten anybody. Mr Walker cannot be allowed to get away with making unfounded allegations like this and I will be contacting my solicitor. This (book] is the reaction of a very bitter individual.

"As I recall, Councillor Walker was repeatedly told by the chair of the planning committee to stop being abusive to officials."

Mosson, who blamed his convictions on alcoholism and says he has been sober since 1978, added: "I served my time and I paid my debt to society and I believe I am in a better position than most to understand the problems many people in Glasgow face."

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council invited Walker to put up or shut up.

He said: "Mr Walker makes some very serious allegations and if he has evidence to support them it is incumbent on him to go to the police.

"As he has, to the best of my knowledge, not done this I would speculate that he has no evidence to support his claims."

He said the authority was examining its legal options with regard to the book.

Walker was unavailable for comment.