Former Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson responds to "smears and innuendo" in damning report

The former Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson has launched an attack on what he calls "smears and innuendo" following a damning report into the running of the city council during his time in office.

Mr Anderson stood down from his role following his arrest and suspension by the Labour Party in December.

The 63 year old is about to publish a website which he says will be a "line by line rebuttal" to the Caller Report which accused Liverpool City Council of having a culture of bullying, intimidation, dubious deals and jobs for the boys.

Max Caller delivered his 70-page report in March, in which he described the council as a dysfunctional organisation, rife with mismanagement and resistance to scrutiny.

Mr Anderson claimed today the inspector had not spoken to him until he requested it and said important information had been left out of the report.

The report said the inspection reviewed "all documentation, relating to over 65 property transactions, highway and building maintenance tender appraisals" and conducted an "extensive programme of interviews" with councillors, officers, former officers, contractors and members of the public.

Joe Anderson became the city's first directly-elected mayor in May 2012 after serving as the council leader and was then re-elected to the post in 2016.

In December, inspectors were sent in by Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick following the arrest of five men, including Mr Anderson, who was held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation.

Mr Anderson has insisted that the allegations are baseless and said he is suing Merseyside Police for wrongful arrest.

It follows an investigation by the force into building and development contracts in the city.

The council's director of regeneration, Nick Kavanagh, was also arrested as part of the police probe into building and development contracts in the city, and has since lost his £145,000 a year job. Mr Kavanagh says he will "fight to defend his innocence".

Merseyside Police said all suspects remain under investigation but bail has not been extended.

Writing in a forward to his new website, Mr Anderson said he believes the Caller Report was not fact-checked and reaches "deliberate and misleading conclusions."

He added, "I believe the truth will always come out and my faith, my family and my real friends have kept me strong.

"I have always done my best for my city; always have and always will. I have broad shoulders and will stand up for myself but my family and in particular my wife has been through hell."

Liverpool City Council, headed by a new mayor, is expected to send its formal response to the Caller Report to the government before the end of the month.

That response, as well as a plan for making improvements to how the city is run, will be agreed at a full council meeting next week.