The mayor of Liverpool will embark on a period of unpaid leave from the city council “to focus on cooperating with the police”, after he was arrested last week as part of a corruption investigation.
“I’m stepping away from decision making within the council through a period of unpaid leave until the police make clear their intentions with the investigation on 31 December,” Anderson said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
The mayor was one of five men arrested on Friday on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation as part of Operation Aloft, a Merseyside Police probe into the award of building and development contracts in the city that has now seen 11 people arrested since last December.
All five arrested on Friday were released on bail the following day without charge, pending further enquiries.
Anderson was subsequently suspended by the Labour Party and has now decided to hand over his mayoral responsibilities to deputy mayor Cllr Wendy Simon while the police investigation continues.
Anderson’s statement added: “I have always done what I believe is best for the city, and I am taking the following action with those best intentions in mind.
“I believe it is important that the city and the Government are reassured that our city is indeed operating in the correct way. I am going to focus on cooperating with the police in their ongoing inquiry, as I believe time will make it clear that I have no case to answer.
“I am very grateful for the many messages of support I have received and I have faith that, as always, the future of our city is bright and its best days are ahead.”
Prior to Anderson’s decision to stand down on Thursday, the Government ordered the city council to disclose details of any of its upcoming property development or disposal plans, as well as its strategy to secure “effective governance” in the wake of the arrests.
Whitehall civil servants are on standby to support the city in the wake of the scandal, a letter sent by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to Liverpool City Council chief executive Tony Reeves said.