TWO councillors have been suspended after concerns were raised that they have been paying for people to become members of the Labour Party.

Midlesbrough councillors Pervaz Khan, who represents the Middlehaven ward, and Derek Loughborough, from the North Ormesby and Brambles Farm ward, discovered their fate at a group meeting last night.

It has been confirmed to The Northern Echo that the pair were suspended by the national party and are being investigated by the Labour North Regional Office.

Following the brief meeting, the pair said: “We have no comment to make at this point as it is an internal matter for the Labour Party to investigate.”

An insider from the Middlesbrough Labour group said the councillors had been working hard in their communities to recruit new members by offering to help them to pay their first annual subscription, but neither had broken any party rules.

The party will still have control of 28 of the available 49 seats on the authority, which is headed by elected Mayor Ray Mallon.

The leader of the council’s labour group, Councillor Charlie Rooney was unavailable for comment last night but a spokesman for Labour North confirmed the decision had been made.

The spokesman said: "Councillor Khan and Councilor Loughborough have been placed on administrative suspension from the Labour Party as part of an investigation into concerns regarding recruitment of members to the Labour Party in Middlesbrough. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this point."

The suspensions come in the wake of the row in Falkirk where the selection process for a prospective Labour candidate was marred by the allegation that the Unite union paid for as many as 100 of its members to join the Falkirk Constituency Labour Party to guarantee its preferred candidate Karie Murphy got through.

Mr Miliband ordered an inquiry into what was going on and its findings have now been handed to police to investigate possible “identity fraud”.

In the meantime Stephen Deans, chairman of Falkirk CLP and Unite in Scotland and Ms Murphy, reportedly a close friend of Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, have both been suspended.