Work on the Teesworks investigation is expected to “kick off in earnest” next week following the appointment of a panel by the government.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove has appointed the panel to look into the South Tees Development Corporation (STDC) and Teesworks Joint Venture, with chief executive of Lancashire County Council Angie Ridgwell appointed as lead reviewer. The three-person panel will consider allegations of corruption, illegality and wrongdoing, alongside the governance and financial management.

A report of the panel’s findings, along with any recommendations, is expected in the summer. The government has said any interested party, including MPs, will be able to make representations.

Read more: Panel to investigate allegations of corruption at Teesworks is named

Local government minister Lee Rowley said this week: “I want to stress we have not seen evidence of corruption, wrongdoing, or illegality in relation to Teesworks, but it is apparent the allegations present a risk to the delivery of jobs and economic growth in the region. Given the importance to Tees Valley of addressing this matter, and the request made by the mayor, the government has appointed an independent panel to review the arrangements.”

The announcement sparked a political row in Parliament. Labour accused the government of blocking a fully independent investigation, with Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham calling for an “end to secrecy”, while the Conservative Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Simon Clarke accused his opponents of a “cynical, shameless and seedy attempt to talk down Teesside”.

At a meeting of the Teesside Freeport governance board on Wednesday (June 8), Tees Valley Combined Authority group chief executive Julie Gilhespie said: “I’m sure people have followed it in the press. The terms of reference of that were issued yesterday.

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“I’ve been in contact with the chair of the panel and I’ve got a meeting being set up this week. So I expect that work to kick off in earnest probably next week and the expectation is it will take a number of weeks for them to do their report.

“I think their hope is to report before the end of this Parliament, but whether that’s achieved or not I don’t know.”

She spoke of a separate look at the effectiveness of freeports nationally by a parliamentary select committee, expected to visit Teesside this month: “They’re going around talking to all the different freeports and they’ll reach conclusions on the freeport policy. It’s to do with national freeport