The party has appointed former minister Sir David Hanson to carry out an internal investigation into its role in the failings of the Labour-led city council following a damning report that found evidence of mismanagement and award of “dubious contracts” by the local authority.
Hanson, who is from Liverpool and served as minister for security, crime and policing in former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s cabinet, is to be assisted in conducting the review by ex-Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake.
The Labour Party’s probe follows publication of advisor Max Caller’s Government-commissioned report into the running of Liverpool City Council’s property, highways and regeneration departments, which concluded that the council had “failed in numerous respects to comply with its [statutory] Best Value duty to taxpayers.”
The Labour party said this week it “accepted the report in full” and would “act against anyone…who is involved in wrongdoing of any kind”.
Former city mayor Joe Anderson is currently under investigation by Merseyside Police having been arrested as part of Operation Aloft, an inquiry into corruption allegations at the city council, on suspicion of bribery and witness intimidation last December. Anderson has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing.
This weekend, it emerged that Anderson had asked the council to pay for his legal fees in relation to the ongoing police investigation. The council turned down the request and Anderson has now has lodged an appeal against the decision at the High Court in Manchester.
Anderson has been suspended from the Labour Party and therefore barred from standing for re-election as mayor in May and yesterday it was confirmed that Joanne Anderson, who is no relation to the former mayor, has been chosen as Labour’s Liverpool mayoral candidate.
She will stand against Liberal Democrat candidate Richard Kemp, the Green Party’s Tom Crone, and Liberal Party candidate Steve Radford.
In February, Labour came under fire for its decision to scrap a three-woman shortlist for the Labour mayoral candidacy, which included interim mayor Wendy Simon, who took up the post following Anderson’s arrest, as well as Ann O’Byrne and Anna Rothery.