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.”