Elliot Lawless refuses to reveal how much he paid for the sites at the center of the fraud investigation

A Liverpool businessman has refused to reveal how much he paid Liverpool City Council for two sites which are now under police investigation.

Elliot Lawless, chairman of the Elliot Group, was arrested in December 2019 along with then Liverpool council regeneration chief Nick Kavanagh. More than £300,000 in cash was seized in searches of property linked to Mr Lawless, who was questioned on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud, bribery and bribery.

This seizure was later deemed illegal. The pair, who have denied any wrongdoing, were arrested in connection with an investigation into construction and development contracts in the city.

READ MORE: Liverpool ‘still attract investment’ despite claims developers have ‘abandoned the city’

Neither man has been charged with any offence. Mr Kavanagh was subsequently removed from his post by the council.

In 2020, ECHO obtained a High Court judgment which followed a judicial review of Mr Lawless’ arrest. The document revealed that Mr Lawless was arrested in connection with two sites that had bought from the council in the Georgian quarter of the city.

The venues were 40-50 Percy Street / 53-57 Upper Parliament Street, Liverpool L8 and 68 Falkner Street, Liverpool L7.

The judgment said there was an allegation of an “unduly preferential basis”.

When ECHO asked how much Mr Lawless had paid for the site, a spokesperson for the Elliot Group said: ‘Both acquisitions achieved a good sale price for the council and were subject to lengthy negotiations and detailed monitoring of lawyers on both sides.

“These are two high quality projects that are fully occupied and add tremendous value to their surroundings. We are proud of what we have delivered for the city.”

A Liverpool council spokesperson said: “We have no comment on this due to ongoing legal issues.”

When Mr Lawless was arrested, police seized £337,342 in cash and €10,442.10.

However, following the application for judicial review, Mr Lawless obtained acceptance from Merseyside Police that the search warrant used on December 18 should be quashed and that the entry of these addresses, their searches and the subsequent seizures were illegal.

Judge Robin Knowles provided a summary of the investigation in the judgment.

It read: “Merseyside Police’s Economic Crime Unit is investigating the sale by Liverpool City Council and its officials of land and property in the Liverpool area.

“The investigation focuses on the purchase by the claimant entities of two properties from Liverpool City Council, 40-50 Percy Street / 53-57 Upper Parliament Street, Liverpool L8 and 68 Falkner Street, Liverpool L7, on what is presumed to be an unduly preferential basis.

In response to the result of the judicial review, Merseyside Police said there were “technical problems” with three warrants executed at Beetham Plaza on December 18, 2019.

The force agreed to overturn the warrants, but said it would retain the money seized in the investigation “under the Proceeds of Crime Act”.

The money was not returned to Mr. Lawless. Mr. Lawless still runs the real estate company Elliot Group.