Ged Fitzgerald, chief executive of Liverpool City Council, has been suspended following a meeting of the local authority’s appointments and disciplinary panel.
Fitzgerald stepped away from his duties following his arrest in May with three other men as part of a police investigation into One Connect, a joint venture established to run contracts between Lancashire County Council and BT.
The other men involved are Geoff Driver, who was at the time leader of Lancashire County Council, Phil Halsall and David McElhinney. Driver became leader of the council again following this May’s elections.
Halsall was formerly finance chief of Liverpool City Council and then chief executive of Lancashire County Council; while McElhinney had been chief executive of One Connect and a similar organisation in Liverpool Direct.
The men were arrested and detained on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and witness intimidation, and have been rebailed twice since May. The next hearing is due on 22 November.
Up to this point, Fitzgerald had not been suspended and remained and full pay. After his suspension, he remains on full pay.
A Liverpool City Council spokesman said: “We can confirm that the City Council’s Appointments and Disciplinary Panel met today to discuss the circumstances surrounding the chief executive, Ged Fitzgerald.
“After deliberating carefully, the panel took the decision to suspend him. We must stress this is a neutral act to allow an independent investigation into issues, including potential reputational impacts on the City Council at the current time, to proceed.
“It is important for the City Council, the panel and the chief executive that the investigator is able to make an objective assessment and therefore we are not able to make any further comment at this stage.”
An extraordinary meeting of Lancashire County Council’s full council was held last Friday to discuss a motion submitted by Labour councillor John Fillis calling for Driver to resign. However, the meeting was abandoned and the motion withdrawn following the collapse of a councillor.