Joe Anderson, the elected Labour mayor of Liverpool, has been arrested along with four other men on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation, the Liverpool Echo has reported.
The former leader of Liverpool Council and the first directly-elected mayor of Liverpool since being elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2016 was reportedly arrested earlier today by Merseyside Police.
The police said the arrests were made as part of an “ongoing investigation” and confirmed the details of the following arrests, with the 62-year-old understood to be Anderson:
- A 62-year-old man, from Old Swan has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation.
- A 33-year-old man, from West Derby, has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation.
- A 46-year-old man, from Ainsdale, has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation.
- A 25-year-old man, from, Ormskirk, has been arrested on suspicion of witness intimidation.
- A 72-year-old man, from Aigburth, has been arrested on suspicion of witness intimidation.
The year-long probe is in connection with building and development contracts in Liverpool. The police earlier today said those arrested had been taken to police stations across Merseyside where they would be questioned by detectives.
A Liverpool City Council spokesperson said: “Liverpool City Council is co-operating with Merseyside Police in relation to its ongoing investigation. We do not comment on matters relating to individuals.”
Anderson comfortably won the internal party contest to be reselected as Labour’s mayoral candidate in February last year after being the subject of a ‘trigger ballot’ process.
LabourList understands that Anderson has been administratively suspended from the Labour Party, pending the outcome of the case.
The Labour Party cannot comment on an ongoing police matter, nor on individual cases as disciplinary procedures are confidential and the party must uphold its legal responsibilities for data protection.
Update: Anderson later released a statement, saying: “I was arrested as part of Operation Aloft on Friday 4th 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.”