The mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, pictured, has been arrested as part of a fraud investigation and suspended from the Labour party.
Anderson, who has led Liverpool for a decade, was one of five men arrested across Merseyside on Friday in an investigation into building and development contracts in the city. He is being interviewed by police on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation.
Merseyside police have not named any of the men arrested, but the Guardian has been told by several sources that the 62-year-old mayor is one of those being held.
A Liverpool city council spokeswoman said: “Liverpool city council is cooperating with Merseyside police in relation to its ongoing investigation. We do not comment on matters relating to individuals.”
The others arrested are: a 72-year-old man from Aigburth, on suspicion of witness intimidation; a 33-year-old man from West Derby, on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation; a 46-year-old man from Ainsdale, on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation; and a 25-year-old man from Ormskirk, on suspicion of witness intimidation.
Sources said Anderson had been suspended from the Labour party in light of his arrest. A former social worker and publican, he has led the city since 2010 and has been mayor since 2012. He has been a councillor in Liverpool for 22 years and leader of the Labour group since 2003.
He ran unsuccessfully to be the mayor of the Liverpool city region, a post won by the former Labour MP Steve Rotheram, and to be an MP for Liverpool Walton in 2017. Last year he secured the Labour party selection to run to be mayor of the city for a third term in May’s delayed elections.
Anderson’s eldest brother, Bill, died in October after contracting coronavirus. The mayor has spent most of 2020 shielding at home due to underlying health conditions.