Various roles held by Ged Fitzgerald, chief executive of Liverpool City Council, have been re-allocated following his arrest on Monday as part of a long-running investigation into alleged irregularities relating to contract awards at Lancashire County Council.
Fitzgerald was one of four senior local government figures arrested, and then bailed until 19 June. The other three were Geoff Driver, former leader of Lancashire County Council and set to return to the position following the Conservative Party’s victory earlier this month; Phil Halsall, formerly finance chief of Liverpool City Council and ex-chief executive of Lancashire County Council; and David McElhinney, who was chief executive of One Connect and Liverpool Direct, the joint ventures established to run contracts between the councils and BT.
The men were arrested and detained on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and witness intimidation.
Fitzgerald temporarily stepped aside from his chief executive position on Tuesday. He is also the council’s head of paid service, which is now being covered by the council’s head of HR. The city solicitor has been appointed electoral registration officer and returning officer for the general election and Kirkdale by-election count next month.
Fitzgerald also held the position of interim head of paid service for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, and his replacement is expected to be chosen at a meeting of the combined authority on Friday.
A statement from Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said that Fitzgerald’s decision to step aside “has been accepted as the right decision for the city and to enable the council to deliver services without distraction.
“The chief executive has not been suspended by the council and is not subject to any disciplinary process. There is no intention to appoint an interim chief executive and the requirements of the role will be covered by myself as executive Mayor supported by the senior management team in this period.”