The first directly-elected mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, was reportedly arrested by Merseyside Police on Friday over alleged bribery and witness intimidation, as part of an investigation into development contracts.

A police statement detailing the arrests did not name the Labour mayor explicitly as a suspect in the “ongoing investigation”, however, local reports have identified him as one of those detained.

Police said that those held include three men, aged 62, 33 and 46, “arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation.” Two other men, aged 25 and 72, were arrested “on suspicion of witness intimidation.”

Officers said the five had been taken to stations across Merseyside, “where they will be questioned by detectives.”

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A spokesperson for Liverpool City Council said it is “co-operating with Merseyside Police in relation to its ongoing investigation. We do not comment on matters relating to individuals.”

Anderson or his office have yet to confirm or deny the reports of his arrest, however a Labour spokesperson confirmed that the mayor has been administratively suspended” from the the party, pending the outcome of the case.

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