Mayor of Liverpool steps down

Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool since 2012, resigns after arrest linking him with bribery and corruption crimes

Photo by Mark Harrison on Flickr.

— 2 minute read — By Madison Sutton

Joe Anderson, the former Mayor of Liverpool, announced he intended to step down from his role last month, under a cloud of scandal. This came just days after he was arrested by Merseyside Police, along with four other men, as part of an investigation into building and development contracts in Liverpool. He was arrested on Friday 4th December under suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation, but was later released on bail, which he will remain on throughout the continuation of the investigation.

The 62 year old has been suspended from the Labour Party and says he has taken a period of unpaid leave to help reassure people that ‘the city is indeed operating in the correct way’.

Police revealed on 31st December last year that they would re-bail Mr Anderson and extend the investigation until at least 19th February. Following this, Mr Anderson released a statement that he would not stand for re-election, and that the Labour Party would need a new candidate to put forward for May’s delayed elections.

Mr Anderson was succeeded by Deputy Mayor Wendy Simon, a councillor for Kensington and Fairfield. This was welcomed by Liberal Democrat councillor, Richard Kemp, and leader of the council’s Green group, Tom Crone, who said Anderson’s continued presence as the police investigation continued would have been a ‘distraction’.

This came at a time when, nearing the Christmas season, many Liverpudlians were concerned about COVID-19 and the effect that this situation might have on the council’s response to the crisis. Deputy Mayor Simon tried to assure the public of the Council’s focus, stating, ‘“I would like to reassure you that the city council is concentrating on creating a path of recovery through the COVID-19 crisis’’, and reinforcing that the city’s needs would not be overshadowed by Mr Anderson’s arrest.

Other suspects in the investigation include men aged 33 and 46 detained under conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation, along with a 25 year old and 72 year old suspected of witness intimidation. They were all also re-bailed until 19th February.

Mr Anderson, who had been the Mayor of Liverpool since 2012 and worked on the council since 1998, said his arrest came as a “painful shock” and that he hopes his cooperation with the police will help determine he has “no case to answer”.  This was a sentiment reiterated through later statements that he would continue to fight to clear his name but would do so away from public office.