City mayor arrested over alleged theft of council’s Jubilee funds

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THE mayor of Yorkshire’s smallest city has been arrested on suspicion of stealing council funds during last year’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Andrew Williams, 43, who is the youngest mayor in Ripon’s history as well as a borough and county councillor, was arrested “in connection with an allegation of theft”.

The independent councillor was detained in February in connection with the alleged theft of several hundreds pounds, a sum thought to relate to the staging of the city’s Jubilee celebrations last June.

Councillors in the city were told last month that one of their colleagues had been arrested but only discovered who it was when the arrest was reported in a newspaper yesterday.

Williams, who was released on bail after his arrest while a police investigation is carried out, was unavailable for comment. He is currently serving his second term as mayor and was the youngest person ever to hold the role during his first term in 2007/8.

Ripon City Council said in a statement that it had “recently been made aware of allegations in relation to financial matters associated with the Jubilee celebrations.”

It added: “As this matter is part of an ongoing police investigation the council is unable to make any further comment on this matter at this stage.”

The council later refused to comment on whether Williams was still the mayor of Ripon or would be carrying on as councillor.

Elected members in Ripon were left mystified after Mick Stanley, the chairman of the council’s finance and general purposes committee, gave a statement during a meeting last month saying that a councillor had been arrested and was being investigated by the police.

He did not name the councillor, leading some of his colleagues to fear they would be seen as under suspicion.

Conservative councillor Alan Skidmore is reported to have asked Coun Williams during a council meeting this week whether he wanted to comment on an “elected member of the council being arrested and released on police bail”, but he declined.

Coun Stanley, who is due to take over as Ripon mayor later this year, said he did not know which councillor had been arrested when he made the statement and that the information came from the police. Coun Skidmore declined to comment.

In a profile on the council’s website, Williams said he works full time as chief executive of a leading divorce law firm, with offices in Harrogate, London and Manchester.

A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “A 43-year-old man from the Ripon area was arrested on 23 February 2013 in connection with an allegation of theft.”