Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has been arrested Friday by the city police as part of a fraud and corruption investigation. The Labor Party, of which Anderson has been a lifelong member, immediately suspended him, waiting for the results of the British judicial inquiry. The party refused to comment, as for now, but several sources confirmed that Mr Joe Anderson had been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
A former social worker and then pub manager, the 62-year-old Anderson was a city councillor for two decades before running in 2010 in the first direct elections for the office of Mayor. He has since been re-elected and has remained continuously the head of one of the most important cities in the United Kingdom, famous all over the world as the birthplace of the Beatles and for its football team, reigning Premier League champion.
The accusations against Mr Anderson, according to “The Guardian,” concern contracts in the real estate sector and city infrastructures. The arrest does not amount to a guilty verdict, nor does it mean that the Mayor will remain in prison: the police, to interrogate a person suspected of a crime, must always arrest him in the UK, to give him the right not to answer and to consult a lawyer, making use of all legal rights.
Five other people have been arrested together with Anderson, of which the authorities did not reveal for the moment the identity, but only the age: a man of 72, one of 46, one of 33, and one of 25. Also, they have to answer for fraud and corruption, as well as conspiracy and attempted intimidation of a witness. In 2017, the Mayor of Liverpool ran as a Member of the Parliament in Westminster but was not elected.
He got national influence during the Covid-19 health emergency after supervising in Liverpool the country’s first mass testing program, operating closely with the central government in Westminster, the army, and all security departments. Confirmed cases in the city, which in October was one of the major outbreaks of the pandemic in the UK, have dropped more than two-thirds since the plan started on November 6, coinciding with a month-long national lockdown. When lockdown expired on December 2, the urban center has been pushed down into the second tier of limitations, having entered in Tier 3, the highest level.
His older brother died in October of coronavirus, and Anderson himself has spent most of the last year in solitary confinement as a precautionary measure, suffering from other physical sicknesses. His arrest is an embarrassing episode for the Labor party. The new leader, Keir Starmer, has promised to bring the bloc back to victory, making it a credible government force. Following the hard defeat suffered by his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn in the elections last December, the worst performance at the polls for the Labor in eighty-five years.