The mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, has said he is cooperating with police inquiries and supports the Labour party’s decision to suspend him following his arrest as part of a fraud investigation.
The mayor, who has led Liverpool for a decade, was one of five men arrested on Friday during an investigation into building and development contracts in the city.
He was released on bail on Saturday morning, after being interviewed by police on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation.
In a statement released to the Liverpool Echo, Anderson confirmed his arrest and said he had been interviewed by police for six hours.
“I cooperated fully with Merseyside police and will continue to be co-operative in their continuing inquiries,” he said. “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.”
Anderson was suspended by Labour following news of the arrest. He supported the the application of “an administrative suspension” while the investigation continued.
“I have been bailed to return in one month’s time,” he added. “Given the investigation is continuing, and there are bail conditions, I will not be making any further comments.”
Four others were arrested as part of the investigation: 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.
Anderson became mayor of Liverpool in 2012, and has been a councillor in Liverpool for 22 years. He has led the Labour group since 2003.
Anderson, alongside other northern mayors, has been praised for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said Anderson and the metro Mayor of the Liverpool city region, Steve Rotheram, were doing “a great job”. Anderson has been shielding because of underlying health conditions.