Liverpool Labour councillors call for ex-mayor to withdraw legal fees bid

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image captionJoe Anderson was serving as Liverpool's city mayor at the time of his arrest

Liverpool's Labour councillors have called on the city's former mayor to drop his "outrageous" request for the authority to pay his legal costs.

Joe Anderson was arrested in December over claims of bribery and witness intimidation, which he has denied.

Liverpool Labour Group's Mary Rasmussen said the city's Labour councillors "totally reject any call" for tax payers to "foot" his legal bill.

Mr Anderson declined to comment on the councillors' statement.

A police investigation into allegations of fraud, bribery, corruption, misconduct in public office and witness intimidation at the council has seen five men, including Mr Anderson, arrested.

All five deny any wrongdoing and have not been charged with any offence.

Merseyside Police have said the men are no longer on bail, but remain under investigation.

'Hurt and embarrassment'

In a statement, Ms Rasmussen, the group's chairwoman, said the councillors had "met to agree a response" to Mr Anderson's "legal claim".

"The clear decision... is that we totally reject any call for council tax payers to foot this legal bill," she said.

"We call on the claim to be withdrawn immediately and if it is not, the council will continue to fully defend this claim.

"We share the view of the public that this claim is outrageous, and we stand with the public."

In an earlier statement, Mr Anderson said he had "co-operated fully with Merseyside Police and will continue to do so".

He added that "people should know that I have not been charged with anything and I completely deny the allegations that have been made against me".

image captionMs Rasmussen apologised for the "hurt and embarrassment" caused to Liverpool

Inspectors were sent in by the local government secretary after the allegations were made.

The resulting inspection report found what Robert Jenrick told Parliament were "multiple apparent failures" and led to him proposing that commissioners oversee parts of the authority for a minimum of three years.

In the statement, Ms Rasmussen apologised for the "hurt and embarrassment" caused by the inspection.

She added that work would now begin to "rebuild the trust of residents, business and local partners" and "remedy and correct all areas of concern".

On Monday, the national Labour Party announced former minister David Hanson would lead its review into the problems at the council.

A spokeswoman said the party would "do whatever it takes to tackle the problems set out in the report".

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