The former Mayor of Liverpool was arrested for allegedly intimidating city council chief executive Tony Reeves, a court heard yesterday.
Joe Anderson was appearing in court in a bid to force Liverpool City Council to pay his legal fees in relation to the ongoing Merseyside Police investigation, Operation Aloft. Anderson was arrested last year on suspicion of bribery and witness intimidation but has not been charged with any offence and denies any wrongdoing.
Anderson’s barrister David Lock QC said the arrest stemmed from “a series of Freedom of Information requests [submitted] in respect of conduct of Mr Reeves.”
“It is not suggested Mr Anderson made those requests, I think it is suggested Mr Anderson was involved in somehow assisting those who made the requests,” Lock added.
The allegation is said to relate to disciplinary proceedings involving Nick Kavanagh, the council’s former director of regeneration who was also arrested as part of the investigation but also denies any wrongdoing, PA’s Eleanor Barlow reported.
The bribery element of the arrest relates to allegations Anderson received “financial advantages in exchange for either access to privileged information, privileged access or contracts,” Lock said.
Anderson denies the allegation.
A ruling on whether or not the city council will have to pay the former mayor’s legal fees is pending.
Louis Browne QC, representing the council, said Anderson was not entitled to the indemnity because the allegations did not relate to duties he carried out in his role as mayor.
Lock disagreed, claiming the council had “acted unlawfully” in refusing to pay Anderson’s legal costs.
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.
Liverpool City Council declined to comment. Anderson’s PR team was contacted for comment.