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Norwich South Labour candidate is proud of union links and says selection was "above board"

PUBLISHED: 14:23 03 July 2013 | UPDATED: 19:37 03 July 2013

Clive Lewis. Labour party

Clive Lewis. Labour party

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Labour's candidate for Norwich South said he was proud of his trade union connections as his seat was dragged into a row over their influence in the selection process.

Labour’s candidate for Norwich South said he was proud of his trade union connections as his seat was dragged into a row over their influence in the selection process.

Clive Lewis, who became Labour’s prospective candidate in 2011, insisted his selection was “above board” amid reports the influential union claimed in an internal document that it had a “direct impact” in keeping out right-wing candidates.

The former BBC journalist said he thought someone in the union had probably tried to overstate the union’s involvement in his campaign to be selected in an effort to “big themselves up”.

Questions have been raised by Labour’s head office about the influence of the Unite union in seat selections amid allegations tit manipulated votes in the safe Labour constituency of Falkirk.

A letter was sent to Unite members in Norwich South in 2011 supporting Mr Lewis, who was the union’s official nomination in the run up to a party vote.

And he also said he received money from the union “late” into the campaign to help with the cost of leaflets and campaign material.

Mr Lewis said: “Trade Unions are an inherent and important part of the Labour Party and they should take their place in the democratic process. Of course it should always be legitimate. The fact they want to legitimately organise within the Labour Party is something that has happened as long as the Labour Party has existed.

“I am proud of the work that they do, and I am proud that they are trying to encourage a broader range of people to become MPs. Working people to reflect a there is a need for a more diverse range of needs and views.

He added: “It is important that Labour reflects all aspects of society. If you are going to talk about One Nation Labour it includes unions and everyday people. It encompasses the whole of our society and trade unions are part of that. “I am proud of my connection to unions. And I know that how we operate in Norwich is all above board.”

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