Joe Anderson in battle to make Liverpool Council fund legal costs

Joe Anderson is taking court action in a bid to make Liverpool's council taxpayers fund legal costs linked to his arrest, the ECHO understands.

The former city mayor has been told Liverpool Council will not pay for his legal representation in relation to Merseyside Police's Operation Aloft.

The 63-year-old has now launched judicial review proceedings to challenge that decision.

The Sunday Times today reported Mr Anderson had gone to court to seek public money to cover his legal fees.

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The ECHO understands this stemmed from an application to Liverpool Council to fund his representation in relation to Aloft, a high-profile probe into building and development contracts in Liverpool.

The authority is believed to have rejected that request.

Mr Anderson is now appealing the decision by seeking to take the matter to a judicial review.

Public officials can qualify for legal support in relation to matters linked to their role.

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It was under these regulations that the council once paid £89,000 in legal costs linked to an employment tribunal that related to Mr Anderson's work at Chesterfield High School.

However, the legislation that provides for that indemnity identifies a number of scenarios in which suspects are not entitled to their fees being covered and the ECHO understands Liverpool Council will defend its decision in court.

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has stepped aside from his role after he was arrested by police

Mr Anderson was arrested on suspicion of bribery and witness intimidation in December.

He has since stepped aside from his mayoral duties, though he has not been charged in relation to the allegations.

An application to keep him and four suspects arrested alongside him on bail was withdrawn by police last week, but he remains under investigation.

Mr Anderson denies wrongdoing and has launched separate judicial proceedings in the High Court against Merseyside Police's Chief Constable, arguing his arrest was "unnecessary and therefore unlawful".

Details of his fight for council taxpayers' money to fund his legal costs follow a dramatic week in which the Government announced independent commissioners would be sent in to help run the city.

An explosive investigation report stated inspectors found a series of troubling issues with how Liverpool Council had been run.

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Local Government secretary Robert Jenrick said "many millions of pounds have been wasted " as the report was published.

Mr Jenrick told the House of Commons: "It paints a deeply concerning picture of mismanagement, the breakdown of scrutiny and accountability.

"A dysfunctional culture, putting the spending of public funds at risk and undermining the city's economic development."

Operation Aloft is a separate Merseyside Police investigation that came into public view in December 2019 when the now-dismissed Liverpool Council Director of Regeneration, Nick Kavanagh, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and misconduct in a public office.

Nick Kavanagh, Liverpool Council's former Director of Regeneration

The 52-year-old denies wrongdoing and last week said he would "fight to defend his innocence".

No-one has been charged in connection with Operation Aloft, which remains ongoing.

Both Liverpool Council and representatives for Mr Anderson have been approached for comment.