Investigation into city council will not be published

The findings of a long-running investigation into conduct at Liverpool Council will not be made public.

Last summer, Bristol-based law firm TLT LLP was tasked with leading a scope into the local authority’s records to establish whether there is any evidence of “improper influence in the council’s decision making arising from the actions of former Mayor Joe Anderson and former senior officers.”

The investigation was launched at the behest of Liverpool Council’s external auditors Grant Thornton, who said they could not sign off on historic accounts until the scope was completed.

Having initially given a six-week window to deliver their first stage report, the document is now with the auditors. However, the city’s audit committee has confirmed its findings will not be made public.

In minutes of the council’s committee held last month, it was said the report is legally privileged and “covers things that are currently under investigation by the Police.” Upon the instigation of the investigation, Grant Thornton said the books would not be signed off at the Cunard Building until it knew whether problems that have dogged the authority were limited to “a particular area in the council or whether the issues are more pervasive.”

In June, Merseyside Police submitted an evidence file from its Operation Aloft corruption probe to the Crown Prosecution Service. Operation Aloft is an investigation into allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption linked to building and development contracts in Liverpool.

The two-stage investigation was expected to look to obtain and perform “a structured review of the correspondence and other communications data of key decision-making personnel, including heads of departments and senior managers (and those known to be subject to police investigation) to identify indications of the improper exertion of influence of decision-making processes.”

Members of the committee have expressed their concern at not being provided with the report, citing a “responsibility to oversee the annual accounts processing.” The report added: “We do not need details, but we should be made aware of the findings to fulfill our responsibilities.”

Barry Scarr, interim corporate director for finance and resources, told members that he would seek recommendations to be brought before members without publishing the full report and breaching legal privilege. The committee has requested sight of key findings and executive summary if possible.

It is not known if both parts of the originally pitched report have been received by the auditors and the city council. It had been thought at first the second stage would include a report documenting any further findings and recommendations in enhancement of, or supplementary to those reported previously and further evidence on any potential items of substantive unlawful expenditure.


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