The Mayor of Liverpool has been suspended from the Labour Party after he was arrested in connection with a fraud probe into building deals in the city, sources have said.
Joe Anderson, 62, has been taken to a police station for questioning on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation.
Merseyside Police said five men had been arrested on Friday as part of an investigation into building and development contracts in Liverpool.
It is understood the mayor has been suspended from the Labour Party following his arrest.
A 62-year-old man from Old Swan, in Liverpool, was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation, police said.
A 33-year-old man from West Derby, Liverpool, and a 46-year-old man from Ainsdale, in Southport, are suspected of conspiracy to commit bribery and witness intimidation.
A 25-year-old man from Ormskirk, Lancashire, and a 72-year-old man from Aigburth, in Liverpool, were also detained on suspicion of witness intimidation.
Liverpool City Council did not deny that the mayor had been arrested, simply saying in a statement: “Liverpool City Council is co-operating with Merseyside Police in relation to its ongoing investigation. We do not comment on matters relating to individuals.”
Mr Anderson was elected mayor of Liverpool in 2012, having been on the council since 1998.
The father-of-four was in the Merchant Navy and worked as a social worker before taking up the role.
He stood to become the Labour nomination for metro mayor of the Liverpool City Region in 2016 but was beaten by the then Walton MP Steve Rotheram, who currently holds the post.