Police investigating contracts issued to a firm run by the former council leader’s physiotherapist have passed the inquiry to a cross-border serious crime unit.

A spokesman for Cheshire Police has told the Express the investigation into Cheshire East contracts issued to Core Fit, run by Amanda Morris who was former leader Michael Jones’s physio, is now in the hands of TITAN, the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit.

The unit is a collaboration between Cumbria, Cheshire, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and North Wales police forces to tackle serious organised crime across county borders.

But the Cheshire Police spokesman said the decision to pass the investigation to TITAN was merely due to ensure it remains impartial as the council and police have a close working relationship.

He said: “Cheshire Constabulary has conducted an investigation into alleged improper conduct at Cheshire East Council. The investigation has proved extremely lengthy and complex and it’s anticipated it will be many more months before a conclusion is reached. Now in the interests of impartiality and to maintain the credibility of the investigation a decision has been taken to pass it to officers at the regional TITAN unit.

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“This decision has been made to ensure the integrity of the investigation and all those involved in light of the fact that the Constabulary and local authority enjoy a healthy, professional working relationship. No inferences should be drawn regarding the core investigative focus of the TITAN organisation.”

Police launched a criminal investigation into misconduct in a public office in December. It came after three contracts worth up to £156,000 to run fitness sessions in schools and community centres were issued to Core Fit after the council waived its normal procurement rules for the contracts.

Former leader Michael Jones had already announced his resignation as leader after the controversy, stating it was to stop infighting in his Conservative party and always denying any involvement in the issuing of the contracts.

Coun Jones said: “I fully support the police in their efforts of impartiality and to maintain the credibility of the ongoing investigation.”

Cheshire East boss Mike Suarez has previously stated the council had not found any wrongdoing in issuing the contracts but that the council would work with police on the investigation.

Cheshire East Council's headquarters at Westfields, Sandbach