Anderson denies any wrongdoing in relation to Operation Aloft

Liverpool stands firm on Anderson’s indemnity demands  

Dan Whelan

The city council has maintained that it will not pay the former mayor’s legal fees in relation to Operation Aloft after Joe Anderson claimed he was entitled to the same financial support being afforded to others. 

Anderson said “six senior officers” are having their costs paid by Liverpool City Council in relation to ongoing legal proceedings, a claim the authority denies.

In a statement released today, Anderson said: “Six senior officers at Liverpool City Council have already benefitted from legal costs indemnity in criminal investigations touching upon the issues raised in Max Caller’s recent report, and while I deny the allegations made against me by both Merseyside Police and Max Caller, I should be afforded that same legal costs indemnity.”

He added: “Legal costs indemnity is within the constitution of Liverpool City Council, voted for by all councillors and is the norm in local government for elected members and officers in similar circumstances.” 

However, Anderson’s claims have been refuted by the city council, which said the former mayor was mistaken.

“No one has been offered an indemnity for their legal fees by Liverpool City Council regarding Operation Aloft where they are facing allegations of bribery, corruption and intimidation of witnesses,” a council spokesperson said. 

Anderson was arrested last year on suspicion of the above offences as part of Operation Aloft, the Merseyside Police investigation into corruption within the local authority. He has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing.

The council added: “The current circumstances made known to [the city council] by Merseyside Police do not fall within the remit of the [indemnity] legislation…Indemnity is available to an officer or member where they are carrying out functions for the purposes of the council. 

However, the city council did concede that one officer “has the benefit of the indemnity in relation to an allegation of misconduct in public office”, understood to be ex-director of regeneration, Nick Kavanagh.

Earlier this week it emerged that Anderson, who stood down as city mayor following his arrest and was suspended by the Labour party, had lodged an appeal at the High Court in Manchester in a bid to have Liverpool City Council pay his legal fees. 

The former mayor, along with two other ex-council officers, has been indemnified previously as part of Lancashire Police’s Operation Sheridan, an investigation into alleged financial irregularities in relation to procurement practices at Lancashire County Council. 

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No no, no. Time to drift away quietly with whatever tiny speck of “dignity” can be mustered.

By Allan