Liverpool’s spare Mayor must consider his position after his appalling lack of judgement in this matter
At 17.25 tonight all councillors in Liverpool received the notice below that the Chief Executive of Liverpool, Ged Fitzgerald, has finally been suspended from office 4 months after he was first arrested on serious criminal charges.
I am sorry for sending this message late in the day, but I wanted to ensure staff received this information without delay. Please see below the latest update in relation to Chief Executive, Ged Fitzgerald.
With best wishes
Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool
‘We can confirm that a meeting of the City Council’s Appointments and Disciplinary Panel met today to discuss the circumstances surrounding the Chief Executive, Ged Fitzgerald.
After deliberating carefully, the Panel took the decision to suspend him.
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.
It is important for the City Council, the Panel and the Chief Executive that the investigator is able to make an objective assessment and therefore we are not able to make any further comment at this stage.’
The timing, of course is very interesting. As my press statement said it is timed to do two things.
- Get to Labour Councillors before they started their group meeting at 6 pm. We know that there has been considerable disquiet in the Labour Group about this and a whole range of other issues.
- To avoid press scrutiny. The timing means means that most of the press had gone home. We are not a rolling news 24/7/365 kind of place these days!
My comment was,
“a full investigation into Mr Fitzgerald and Rotherham should have taken place four years ago when the problems first became public. He should have been suspended without prejudice as soon as he was arrested on serious criminal charges.
The Mayor of Liverpool must explain why no full investigation was held 4 years ago and why 4 months ago he refused to take the action that he has today and instead claimed that if he took that action it would be prejudicial.
I can only assume that this action has been taken today to head off the increasing criticism of the Mayor in his own Party who are holding their pre-council group meeting tonight.
Joe Anderson should consider his own appalling lack of judgement in this matter and resign”.
The Mayor has had two opportunities to do the right thing.
4 years ago, I challenged him to have a clear and public review of the work of Mr Fitzgerald in Rotherham. That would have both cleared the air and allowed us to benefit from a knowledge of the mistakes that had been made to enable us to properly protect our children from sexual exploitation. Instead I was offered a private chat with Joe and Mr Fitzgerald.
4 months ago, I challenged Mayor Anderson to invoke proper personnel procedures and suspend Mr Fitzgerald without prejudice. He responded that to suspend someone without prejudice is itself prejudicial. This is, of course a nonsense. It is, of course, precisely what he has done today. Perhaps now I will be permitted to see the legal opinion on this matter and discover what information the person giving the opinion was given to lead them to such a crass interpretation of the law.
Who on earth is advising Mr Anderson? What on earth is Mr Anderson doing to accept such appalling advice? If it is a council officer who has been advising Mr Anderson then that person too should be considering their own position. If it is a member of the Labour Party from outside the Council they are just incompetent and inept.
At last the right thing is being done BUT the Mayor must go further. As scandal follows scandal and problem follows problem it is absolutely clear that Liverpool needs help. We need a peer review and then officers from other more competent authorities to plug the hole on the ship’s bottom and get us back on track. Why nor e-mail the Mayor and ask him to seek help? As with all elected members his e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org