Liverpool suspends chief executive amid fraud probe

19 Sep 17

Liverpool Council has suspended its chief executive, who is currently on bail in connection with a fraud probe, to allow it to carry out its own independent investigation into him.

The local authority’s appointments and disciplinary panel met yesterday and agreed to suspend 55-year-old Ged Fitzgerald.

He will continue to receive his £200,000 per year salary, the council confirmed, because its investigation was a “neutral act”.

“After deliberating carefully, the panel took the decision to suspend him,” a Liverpool Council press officer said.  

“We must stress this is a neutral act to allow an independent investigation into issues, including potential reputational impacts on the city council at the current time, to proceed.”

Fitzgerald was one of four men arrested in May as part of a police probe into fraud at Lancashire Council. The investigation centres on ‘financial irregularities’ surrounding the local authority’s joint venture with BT, One Connect, to provide business processing.

Fitzgerald was chief executive of Lancashire before moving over to Liverpool. He was arrested along with Liverpool’s former city finance director Phil Halsall – also a former Lancashire chief executive – former boss of the joint venture with BT Liverpool Direct David McElhinney and ex-Conservative leader in Lancashire Geoff Driver.

The men were originally bailed until 23 August but then re-bailed until 22 November. Fitzgerald temporarily stepped away from his role as chief executive after his arrest in May on suspicion of conspiring to pervert the course of justice and witness intimidation.   

A probe into irregularities in the Lancashire contract was launched by Lancashire Police in 2013. The local paper the Liverpool Echo said the investigation had so far cost more than £2m.

Liverpool had a similar joint venture with BT, Liverpool Direct, but this was cancelled in 2014. Lancashire cancelled its own deal with BT the same year.

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