More bad publicity hit some of the national media over the past few days when news broke that Joe Anderson had failed in his attempt to seek a judicial review into his arrest on suspicion of bribery and witness intimidation. He asked the courts to rule that his arrest and subsequent searching of his property was unlawful
The application was rejected, and he has now lost an appeal against that initial decision.
If you recall, Anderson was arrested along with four other men when officers swooped on addresses across the city late last year. To date no charges have been laid so everyone connected with this case is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty by due process through the legal system.
The arrests formed part of Operation Aloft, an ongoing investigation into building and development contracts in Liverpool. Anderson was suspended by the Labour Party following his arrest which meant that he couldn’t be the Labour Candidate for the Mayoral election which was won instead by Joanne Anderson!
The judicial review bid was first rejected by Mr Justice Julian Knowles. A second judge, Mr Justice Ian Dove, then upheld the initial decision in July after it was appealed by Mr Anderson.
A spokesperson for Merseyside Police confirmed Mr Anderson had issued proceedings against the chief constable of the force, focusing on his arrest and the property searches.
The force said: “As part of this he argued that as a matter of law, on the facts in the matter, his actions could not amount to witness intimidation.
As is usual in judicial review proceedings the matter was considered on paper and Mr Justice Julian Knowles refused Mr Joseph Anderson permission to bring judicial review proceedings on all grounds.
Anderson sought an oral renewal hearing, as is his right in such proceedings.
The matter was heard before Mr Justice Dove in July 2021 in the Administrative Court sitting in Manchester.
Mr Justice Dove again refused Mr Anderson permission to bring judicial review proceedings, as such the arrest and searches of Mr Joseph Anderson’s premises were lawful. Mr Joseph Anderson was ordered to pay costs to the chief constable.”
The last sentence is good news for Liverpool taxpayers. The fact that Anderson lost the case meant that he had to pay all the costs not only of his legal actions but also those of the Police. However, in another related case the Council might still be liable for Anderson’s costs. This is because earlier this year, Joe also brought action against Liverpool Council for refusing to provide indemnity to pay for the legal costs of defending himself against the allegations that formed part of the police investigation.
In that case, a High Court judge said the council had wrongly applied its own policy when making the decision not to grant the indemnity. This is clearly being contested by the Council. It would mean that anyone could claim to be on Council business and expect the Council to pay legal costs. “I was only watching pornography because I was doing research in my role as a councillor, Your Honour!!” No, it doesn’t convince me either!
The Council maintain, rightly in my opinion that it would not have been lawful to pay Anderson’s legal fees, and that the allegations against him did not relate to work he carried out in his position as Mayor of Liverpool. Anderson was supported in Court by four very expensive Barristers. We can only speculate about who is paying them if Joe fails to get the Council to meet costs.
But even the settling of this case will not be the end of the matter. Joe has launched a third judicial review against the Government’s decision to initiate a Best Value Inspection of Liverpool alongside its subsequent report.
I cannot report back on this in detail on this as I can find no mention of it anywhere. This surely would be the height of stupidity. The idea that A Government should not intervene with a review of a Council which in three years saw 15 people arrested on 16 occasions is laughable. A judicial review might work if the Government had done nothing but where they intervened in a council with such dubious behaviour is surely above reproach.
So, Joe Anderson is gone, but is definitely not forgotten. His political ghost will continue to titillate the press for months to come as legal, justice and court proceedings come and go. As Shakespeare wisely observed, “The evil that men do lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones”.
So, Joe Anderson and the memories of him will blight our city for the decade to come and perhaps longer. He didn’t do everything wrong or for the wrong reasons. In fact, I recently praised his approach to the pandemic which I think saved lives in our City. But be under no illusion that the Anderson legacy will mean reputational and financial problems for our City for years to come.