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BEERG Newsletter - Unions: Policy to investigate corruption reports

In our BEERG Newsletter No 37 we drew attention to the investigation by journalists at the magazine Tortoise on allegation of corruption at the major UK union, Unite. Late last week the Financial Times reported that the union has now handed two independent reports into alleged corruption at the union to the police, after the findings revealed “potential criminality.”

Union officials have disclosed that the separate investigations, one by a lawyer and the other by accountancy firm Grant Thornton, both found evidence of overcharging on large contracts.

Sharon Graham, who was elected general secretary of Unite in August 2021, launched the first inquiry by Martin Bowdery KC in December last year. Graham commissioned Bowdery after a valuation suggested a Birmingham hotel and conference centre built by Unite was worth less than the amount spent developing the site. The project was supposed to cost £57mn but the final bill is expected to be about £100mn.

The Bowdery report was meant to be published around now. But Graham has now told the union’s executive council it would no longer be published as it had been handed to the police. Unite has also given police the Grant Thornton report’s findings, including a claim that one company was awarded a contract worth £100,000 a month for eight years, totalling nearly £10mn.

Unite said Graham had pledged to find out if there was any “wrongdoing” in the construction and spending related to the conference centre, which was why she had commissioned Bowdery and Grant Thornton.

Published on: December 14, 2022

Authors: Tom Hayes

Topics: Employee Relations, The UK and European Union

Tom Hayes

Director of European Union and Global Labor Affairs, HR Policy Association

Detailed Bio

Contact Tom Hayes LinkedIn

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