Labour has suspended the mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, from the party after he was arrested and questioned by police investigating bribery and witness intimidation related to building contracts in the city. Mr Anderson has since been bailed.
Merseyside Police said in a statement on Friday that five people were arrested “in connection with offences of bribery and witness intimidation as part of an investigation into building and development contracts in Liverpool”.
“The arrests are part of an ongoing investigation. Those arrested have been taken to police stations across Merseyside, where they will be questioned by detectives,” the force said.
Multiple sources told The Telegraph that Joe Anderson, the mayor of Liverpool, was reportedly one of the five men who was arrested and that Anderson had been “administratively suspended” from the Labour Party while police inquiries continue. On Saturday, the BBC reported that Mr Anderson was released on bail.
A spokesman for the local council declined to verify if the mayor were one of those questioned. However, Mr Anderson, aged 62, confirmed that he had been arrested.
Mr Anderson said on Saturday, according to Sky News: “I was arrested as part of Operation Aloft on Friday 4 December, and interviewed for six hours. I co-operated fully with Merseyside Police and will continue to be co-operative in their continuing enquiries.
“I will be talking to my cabinet colleagues over the weekend to ensure the challenges our city faces with the COVID pandemic continue to receive the focus they deserve.
“I also support the Labour Party’s decision to apply an administrative suspension while this investigation continues.
“I have been bailed to return in one month’s time. Given the investigation is continuing, and there are bail conditions, I will not be making any further comments.”
Anderson has been the mayor of Liverpool since 2012, after previously serving on the local council since 1998. During his time in office, Anderson has led an effort to “invest to earn”, which has seen the regional government back real estate projects in a bid to boost employment, investment, and regeneration, according to The Times.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool, Councillor Richard Kemp, called on Mr Anderson to step down from his duties as mayor during the police probe.
“Firstly, Mayor Anderson must follow precedent and immediately stand down from all official duties until cleared or convicted. We all have deputies capable of carrying out our work,” he said.
“Secondly, we must allow the police to carry out their enquiries. They have been working for 18 months now on a series of allegations relating to problems within the regeneration directorate in relation to the awarding of contracts and property disposals,” Kemp added.
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