Leader glad at police investigation into council ‘misconduct’
OUTGOING council leader Michael Jones says he ‘welcomes’ a police investigation into a claim of council misconduct.
Police have launched a criminal investigation into the awarding of council contracts to a firm run by Councillor Jones’s physiotherapist.
Officers from Cheshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit say they have commenced a criminal investigation into an allegation of ‘misconduct in public office’.
They say it comes as a result of information received about Cheshire East Council and the awarding of contracts.
Three contracts worth up to £156,000 to run fitness sessions in schools and community centres were issued to Core Fit, run by Coun Jones’s physiotherapist Amanda Morris, after the council waived its normal procurement rules.
Coun Jones announced his resignation as leader of the council earlier this month, saying it was a result of ‘in-fighting’ in his Conservative party.
He has always denied any involvement in the issuing of the contracts.
A police spokesman said: “Cheshire Constabulary has commenced a criminal investigation into misconduct in a public office as a result of information received about Cheshire East Council and the award of contracts.”
Coun Jones told the Express he welcomes the investigation.
He said: “I welcome police enquiries as nothing will be found and as stated by internal and external audit, nothing has been done wrong.
“Furthermore I have been publicly trialled by the media and especially social media. I relish the police putting this to bed as soon as possible with a positive outcome for me and all officers.”
The council’s chief executive Mike Suarez has previously said that work by the internal audit team so far had not shown any wrongdoing and that there was no need for an external investigation.
He said the internal audit team was continuing to look into the matter and would report back to the Audit and Governance Committee.
A spokesperson for Cheshire East Council said: “Cheshire East Council will co-operate fully with the police so they can carry out all necessary lines of inquiry.
“As this investigation is ongoing, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”
Michael Jones will be replaced as leader at the next full council meeting on February 25 after the Conservative group chooses a new leader on January 14.
Amanda Morris has been unavailable for comment.
●● Retiring council leader Michael Jones says he welcomes the criminal investigation