A FORMER mayor accused of stealing from his employer has spoken of his relief after he was cleared of suspicion.

Peter Steen, who worked at Rawtenstall Tesco for five-and-a-half years, was investigated by the firm over whether he had stolen several packs of cigarettes.

The 65-year-old former member of Rossendale’s community safety partnership was suspended from his job as a part-time cashier at the branch’s petrol station in Bocholt Way for five weeks while enquiries were made.

While the investigation was under way, Mr Steen discovered that a co-worker had told management he had stolen the goods.

Following the conclusion of the inquiry, Mr Steen, from Bacup, was informed that the stock had been lost on the computer system while being transferred from one area of the store to another, and he was offered his job back.

However, Mr Steen has decided to retire to spend time with his family and do voluntary work.

Mr Steen, who is president of Bacup Rotary Club and lives in Rockcliffe Road, said: “It came out of the blue. I was happy to go along with the process of the investigation.

“It was a complete screw-up. Somebody decided to stick their oar in. Once I got cleared it was a huge weight off my shoulders.”

Tesco declined to comment.