Just five months after he was re-elected, Tim Roache unexpectedly resigned as General Secretary of the GMB two weeks ago. Followers of union affairs will be confused as to why the so recently re-elected union boss resigned. The Daily Mirror’s Mikey Smith reported that it was because of “ill health” and “senior figures inside the union urged Mr Roache to go”. The next day the paper reported Roache faced an investigation after an anonymous letter raised concerns about his conduct. Confused? Me too!
A few days later the Sunday Mirror reported that an investigation into the conduct of the “top union boss has planted a “time bomb” under Labour”. It went on to reveal that Roache quit suddenly after an internal letter circulated accusing him of improper behaviour. Hold on, didn’t Mikey Smith report that it was because of “ill health”? What’s the line?
The union’s president Barbara Plant vowed to protect its staff, saying the safety of “our people, particularly women” is of “paramount importance”. The paper went on to claim that the affair is “expected to entangle some senior MPs and union and party officials in what one described as “a scandal-primed time bomb”.” Is this a real thing?
The article goes on to report that the anonymous letter – signed from “GMB sisters” – made a number of claims, including that senior Labour figures “colluded many times in a cover up”. Roache responded “these allegations are entirely made up with the intention of totally discrediting me. With no names of the accusers I have no opportunity to challenge and prove my entire innocence.” To be fair, without names, Roache’s just groping in the dark.
The union has belatedly now ordered an independent probe into the affairs, the same union that said he was stepping down for health reasons, days after the allegations were made. The Labour leader’s spokesman when pressed on whether he regarded the union chief as “a friend”, would only say “Keir and Tim are colleagues and have worked together.” Which is weak, considering Roache has arranged millions in donations over the years to the Labour Party.
Things got even more convoluted when, Guido hears, a legal letter was sent to newspapers saying that their client, an MP the letter did not name, did not wish to be named. A legal privilege usually reserved for the victims of sex attacks. Confused? Me too!