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Police launch criminal investigation into Cheshire East Council contracts

An investigation into 'misconduct in public office' is underway after three contracts were issued to a firm run by the outgoing leader Michael Jones's physio.

Cheshire East Council's headquarters at Westfields, Sandbach

Police have launched a criminal investigation into the awarding of council contracts to a firm run by the outgoing leader’s physiotherapist.

Officers from Cheshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit say they have commenced a criminal investigation into ‘misconduct in public office’.

They say it comes as a result of information received about Cheshire East Council and the awarding of contracts.

Three contracts worth up to £156,000 to run fitness sessions in schools and community centres were issued to Core Fit, run by outgoing leader Michael Jones's physiotherapist Amanda Morris, after the council waived its normal procurement rules.

Councillor Jones announced his resignation as leader of the council earlier this month staying it was a result of ‘in-fighting’ in his Conservative party.

He has always denied any involvement in the issuing of the contracts.

A spokesman said: “Cheshire Constabulary has commenced a criminal investigation into misconduct in a public office as a result of information received about Cheshire East Council and the award of contracts.”

Michael Jones told the Express he welcomed the police investigation.

He said: "I welcome police enquiries as nothing will be found and as stated by internal and external audit nothing has been done wrong.

"Furthermore I have been publicly trialled by the media and especially social media. I relish the police putting this to bed as soon as possible with a positive outcome for me and all officers."

The council’s chief executive Mike Suarez has previously said that work by the internal audit team so far had not shown any wrongdoing and that there was no need for an external investigation.

But he said the internal audit team was continuing to look into the matter and would report back to the Audit and Governance Committee.

A spokesperson for Cheshire East Council said: "Cheshire East Council will cooperate fully with the police so they can carry out all necessary lines of inquiry.

"As this investigation is ongoing, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time."

Amanda Morris has been unavailable for comment.

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