A LONG-RUNNING police probe into Keighley Town Council has now developed into a fraud investigation.

Officers this week confirm they have interviewed a person under caution as part of their inquiries.

The investigation was launched in December last year after Keighley MP Kris Hopkins urged police to intervene.

He was responding to the findings of a damning external audit report, which highlighted a catalogue of financial weaknesses and poor governance relating to the town council’s 2012/13 accounts.

Ramona Senior, head of West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “Following matters raised by Mr Hopkins, we can now confirm we are investigating allegations of fraud. One person has been interviewed under caution and our enquiries are continuing.”

Mr Hopkins said he felt reassured the police were taking the matter seriously.

He added: “Many people in the town have been dismayed by what’s gone on in the past.

“What’s important, having asked the police to look into this, is for me, as a politician, to let them get on with it.”

He stressed the importance of not trying to predict where the police investigation might lead.

“It’s important it’s looked into,” he said. “I don’t want to pre-empt the outcome of the investigation. I have confidence the police will make those inquiries and come to a reasonable decision at the end.

“Justice, if it needs to be done, will be.”

He added he is confident the council’s new leadership – including newly-elected mayor, Councillor Javaid Akhtar, and deputy mayor, Cllr Gary Pedley – is now making sensible decisions.

Mr Hopkins said: “I met the mayor last week. His desire to be open and transparent and to face up to the issues and reputational damage gave me lots of confidence.”

Reacting this week to the police confirmation of the fraud probe, Cllr Akhtar said: “It is disappointing to hear the police investigation has now developed into a fraud investigation.

“This is a serious matter and I expect the police will deal with it accordingly. Ultimately, the council is responsible for spending public money lawfully and is accountable to the electorate.”

The highly critical external audit was undertaken after a group of Keighley parishioners challenged the council’s 2012/13 accounts.

Ingrow resident and Cavetown Council parishioners campaign group spokesman, Elizabeth Mitchell, said she was not surprised by the latest twist in the tale.

“This is historic information and it has to be dealt with properly,” she said.

“But we do now have a new council that seems to be operating completely differently to the old one, and that is very welcome.

“Hopefully, it won’t get itself into the same kinds of difficulties as the old body.”