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St Helens leader resigns and suspended by Labour amid police probe

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The leader of St Helens MBC has stepped down from the role and been suspended by the Labour party amid a police investigation into a potential data breach.

St Helen’s chief executive Mike Palin said Barrie Grunewald’s “resignation does not relate to operational functioning of the council”.

A Merseyside Police spokesman said: “We can confirm that we’re investigating an allegation of a possible data breach reported involving St Helens councillors.

“Enquiries are ongoing to establish whether any criminal activities have taken place.”

The investigation is understood to be related to WhatsApp messages.

A Labour party spokesperson said: “Barrie Grunewald has stepped aside from his position as leader of St Helens council to allow a police investigation to take place.”

Derek Long was elected leader at a meeting of full council last night.

Speaking to the Liverpool Echo yesterday, Cllr Grunewald said: “I have I said with all that is going on at the moment, with the allegations against certain members of my group, I believe that spurious allegations have been levelled at me.

“So to protect the council and party that I have given so much to it is with a heavy heart that I step down temporarily as the police carry out their investigation.”

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