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Conservative party chairman Jeremy Hanley upheld his allegations that Labour councils were corrupt, on BBC Radio Fo...
Conservative party chairman Jeremy Hanley upheld his allegations that Labour councils were corrupt, on BBC Radio Four's Today programme this morning, even though councils say his accusations relate to past problems now dealt with.

Derbyshire CC leader Martin Doughty pointed to a letter from environment minister David Curry in December 1994 praising the progress that Derbyshire had made in getting rid of malpractice. The council also had a clean bill of health from the ombudsman and the district auditor, he said.

Deputy leader of Derbyshire's Tory group John Moore said he had no evidence of corruption at present.

Today reported that other Labour councils accused by Mr Hanley had already acted on the problems of corruption. At Tameside MBC, a council company running old people's homes has been reformed in line with the district auditor's requirements.

Haringey LBC says Mr Hanley referred to a two year old report into benefit fraud, but the borough has now been praised by the department for social security for its action against fraud.

Lambeth Conservative group leader Hugh Jones said Mr Hanley was right to remind people of Labour's past failures and pointed to the continuing investigations into corruption in the council.

But two Lambeth Tory councillors were also due in court yesterday on fraud related charges, Today reported.

Local Government Chronicle Richard Vize told Today it was unlikely the Conservatives could show corruption on a scale sufficient to persuade numbers of people not to vote Labour.

The allegations were being made out of desperation, he said: 'The Conservatives are facing a very tough time in the May local elections, with a lot of their seats up for grabs and they could lose over 1,000 of them. It is a smear'.

But interviewed on the programme, Mr Hanley said corruption was the right word to use. 'There are very many examples of corruption in Labour councils', he said.

When asked why prime minister John Major had avoided using the word corruption, Mr Hanley said: 'There are certain positions, such as secretary of state for the environment or prime minister, who have to choose their words in a particular way.

'I'm chairman of the party and I'm choosing my words as I think fit for the occasion'.

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