A DEFIANT Geoff Driver will put himself forward as the new leader of Lancashire County Council today despite being arrested and bailed as part of an ongoing police investigation.

The senior Tory was one four men arrested in connection with the One Connect inquiry into contracts entered into authority when he was in charge before 2013.

Burnley-born County Cllr Driver was arrested with three other men on Monday on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and witness intimidation.

The 72-year-old was interviewed and bailed until June 19 along with former county chief-executive Phil Halsall, David McElhinney, chief executive of the now defunct One Connect and Ged Fitzgerald, current Liverpool City Council and former LCC chief executive.


County Cllr Driver has been under pressure from members of his Tory group to stand aside temporarily despite masterminding the party’s victory in May 4’s local elections.

Earlier this week Mr Fitzgerald stood down from his Liverpool post as the city’s Mayor Joe Anderson confirmed his arrest and release on bail.

County Cllr Driver was expected to be confirmed as Conservative candidate for county leader at a party group meeting this morning and nominated officially at the authority’s annual meeting later.

Tory sources confirmed he had been urged by county council colleagues to stand down temporarily.

County Cllr Peter Britcliffe, chairman of the LCC Conservative group who represents Oswaldtwistle, said: “I expect Geoff Driver to put his name forward as leader of the council at the group meeting and be confirmed in the post at the annual meeting.”

The new cabinet will also be confirmed today with Ribble Valley North-East councillor Albert Atkinson as deputy leader.

He said: “Geoff is innocent until proven guilty. If charged, he would have to stand aside in the interim.”

County Cllr Driver has not been available for comment since Monday’s arrests.

A Conservative Central Office spokesman said: “It would be inappropriate to comment whilst there is an ongoing police investigation.”

Nelson East County Councillor Azhar Ali, leader of the authority’s Labour group said: “We will oppose the nomination.”