Leader glad at po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion into coun­cil ‘mis­con­duct’

Macclesfield Express - - GROOM HIT BRIDESMAID IN WEDDING PUNCH-UP - KAREN BRIT­TON

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

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