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JACK'S AIDE STOLE CASH; McConnell in new Red Rose dinner row.

Byline: JAMES TAIT

FIRST Minister Jack McConnell was last night under pressure to disclose the full details of Labour's controversial Red Rose fundraising dinner.

The onslaught came as Elizabeth Wilson, 61, who was treasurer for the First Minister's Wishaw office, admitted defrauding the party out of pounds 11,000.

P arty chiefs have so far refused to divulge details of who attended the Red Rose dinner in March last year, or what cash was contributed to the Labour Party coffers.

McConnell has been targeted ever since it emerged Motherwell businessman Tommy McAlroy's drug baron son, Justin, 28, was at the function in March last year.

Hamilton Sheriff Court heard how employee Wilson skimmed off slush fund cash to pay her own debts.

Labour chiefs said they hoped her admission would help draw a line under what was dubbed "Wishawgate".

But political enemies instead seized on the opportunity to step up the pressure.

A Tory spokesman said: "This closes one chapter in the Red Rose saga but leaves other questions unanswered about who was at the dinner and where did all the money go."

A spokesman for the SNP said: "No one is accusing Jack McConnell of doing anything illegal but the very existence of slush funds requires that he is open and honest."

Wilson, 61, from Motherwell, Lanarkshire, had been accused of robbing money from the accounts of Labour's Motherwell and Wishaw Constituency Party over a five-year period.

Sheriff John Stewart deferred sentence until April for reports.

Drug baron Justin McAlroy was assassinated in a gangland hit outside his Cambuslang home six days after he attended the Red Rose dinner.

reporters@ mirror.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

PRESSURE: Elizabeth Wilson and Jack McConnell
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 9, 2004
Words:282
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