Tories stay silent over leader election

Geoff Driver and other Conservatives celebrate at County Hall
Geoff Driver and other Conservatives celebrate at County Hall
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Conservative Party officials have refused to comment on reports that there could be a last ditch challenge to the election of County Hall’s new leader today.

Coun Geoff Driver is expected to return to the top job after a four-year absence in opposition.

But some party members have hinted that Tory Central Office could be planning to block his re-election before this afternoon’s full council meeting because the veteran politician is currently on bail following his shock arrest by police earlier this week.

One source told the Post: “There are rumours they could suspend him from the party while all this is sorted out. We all believe he’s done nothing wrong, but it’s bound to be a distraction from what is a very demanding job as leader of such a large authority.”

Coun Driver, who has led the Tories both in control and in opposition at County Hall, was questioned at Skelmersdale Police Station on Monday along with three other top local government officials.

Police said they were all arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and intimidating witnesses.

The four, who included two former LCC chief executives and the ex-head of the now defunct One Connect Limited, were later realeased on bail until June 19 pending further enquiries.

Asked if the party could suspend Coun Driver temporarily until the police probe was concluded - thus blocking his election this afternoon as leader - a spokesman at Central Office said: “It would be inappropriate to comment whilst there is an ongoing police investigation.”