Trade union Unite severs ties with long-term supplier over criminality concerns

One of the UK's largest and most powerful trade unions has severed ties with a long-term supplier due to concerns it may have been involved in criminality.

Unite the Union, which is the Labour Party's biggest donor, has told staff the decision is "primarily due to the risk of committing an offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002".

The company, which Sky News is not naming for legal reasons, said it "recently assisted the police with certain investigations" but "no charges of any nature have been brought against any person in any way associated or connected with our company".

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"[We] categorically deny that there has been any wrongdoing of any sort on the part of this company or its staff", it said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Unite confirmed the decision and told Sky News: "The union is sharing and will continue to share any pertinent information we obtain about these matters with the police and other relevant authorities.

"The general secretary is committed to ensuring that no stone is left unturned in uncovering the truth about these matters and taking whatever steps are necessary to protect our members' interests."

Gail Cartmail, Unite's assistant general secretary, revealed the union's move in an email to staff and cited the pressure of "a round of ongoing investigations".

Police raided the union's central London headquarters in April as part of a bribery, fraud and money laundering investigation.

Officers left the building with boxes of files, paper and a computer, and the union later confirmed that a Unite employee is subject to a criminal investigation by the police.

A separate KC-led inquiry is underway into the spending of £100m of members' money on a controversial hotel and conference centre.

General Secretary Sharon Graham, who took over from Len McCluskey in 2021, ordered the investigation after forensic accountants concluded the building's value was "considerably lower" than its construction costs.

Sky News understands the shortfall amounts to approximately £70m.

Unite has more than 1.2 million members across several sectors, including construction, logistics, manufacturing and transport.