Another bitter political row has erupted after charges made against an elected Mayor were dropped just days before he was due to appear in court.

Andy Preston has now challenged a Middlesbrough Labour councillor, who also works with the town’s MP, to admit he was behind the politically motivated campaign to get police to investigate claims he had failed to declare financial interests during meetings.

The former independent elected Mayor has named Matt Storey as the man he believes orchestrated the complainant against him.

The Northern Echo: Andy PrestonAndy Preston (Image: CHRIS BOOTH)

The businessman made the challenge the day after it was reported that he was no longer facing a criminal investigation as the legal case had been dropped.

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP, Simon Clarke, has also joined the fray, calling for the Middlesbrough mayoral election to be re-run following the alleged ‘vexatious’ campaign to discredit the independent candidate.

He said: "I say this seriously because the Labour Party on Teesside keeps doing this, while knowing just what they are doing.

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"They go to the authorities claiming wrongdoing by Conservatives or Independents - and every time they are crying wolf in the hope of political gain.

"Andy faced other false allegations during his time as Mayor, many of which were personal and deeply upsetting. But for Andy, read others.”

The Northern Echo: Simon Clarke MPSimon Clarke MP

And the row has reignited a clash between two other Teesside politicians - Middlesbrough’s Labour MP Andy McDonald and the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Steve Turner.

The warring parties have quarrelled following a series of social media posts with the MP slamming the PCC for making "scurrilous allegations" on Facebook.

Mr Turner has claimed that the local Labour party is wasting police time with another "politically motivated witchhunt".

The Northern Echo: Steve TurnerSteve Turner

He wrote: “Andy Preston now joins a not so exclusive club of individuals who have been reported to the police by members of the Labour Party when they seem to know full well that no wrongdoing has taken place.”

Mr McDonald has written a lengthy letter challenging the PCC to withdraw the allegation and give him an unequivocal apology.

The Northern Echo: Andy McDonald MPAndy McDonald MP

He said: “Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner has made the most outrageous intervention making scurrilous allegations against me in his recent social media posting.

“I have written to him to demand that he withdraws his allegations and that he fully apologises for his wild accusations.

“By his comments, he has directly intervened in operational policing matters that belong to Cleveland Police and not the Police and Crime Commissioner.

“I will be referring this matter to Cleveland’s Police and Crime Panel.”

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But Mr Turner has fired back with his own claims that he has evidence to back up his belief that the MP and Cllr Storey orchestrated a campaign against him in November 2021 when claims were made about historic sexual assault allegations.

An independent investigation cleared the PCC of any wrongdoing and the Independent Office for Police Conduct discontinued its probe in May last year.

He said: “I have copies of an email sent to the-then chief constable from November 2021 and then another from Matt Storey calling on four of the Tees Valley Labour group leaders to continue applying pressure to get me to stand down.”

The Northern Echo was unable to contact Cllr Storey.