Calls for City of Liverpool Mayor to step down following arrest

Liverpool City Mayor Joe Anderson

Liverpool’s elected mayor, Joe Anderson, has been urged to step down from his role following his release on police bail in relation to allegations of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation.

Mr Anderson, 62, was arrested last Friday as part of Operation Aloft, a Merseyside Police probe into property deals within the City of Liverpool area, along with four other men, who were taken to police stations across the city for questioning.

Among the other four arrests was former Liverpool City Council deputy leader, Derek Hatton.

The mayor is understood to have been arrested at his Old Swan home.

On Friday he was also administratively suspended by the Labour Part in relation to the ongoing case.

Following his release on police bail he issued a statement that said: “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.”

But he is now facing calls to step down from political figures within the city.

Cllr Richard Kemp, leader of the Liberal Democrats on the city council, said: “We need to have an urgent meeting of senior politicians in the city, including myself as opposition leader, to consider how the council as a whole moves forward and how we support the chief executive.”

Also, former Labour MP for Walton, Peter Kilfoyle, said: “Joe cannot continue as mayor while being investigated by the police. He can’t carry on.”

On Friday police released details of the five arrests:

A 72-year-old man, from Aigburth, has been arrested on suspicion of witness intimidation.

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.

On Friday a spokesperson for Liverpool City Council 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.”

Mr Anderson was elected Mayor of Liverpool wth 57% of the vote in 2012, having been on the city’s council since 1998. He retained the position in 2016 with 52.6% of the vote.

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