Labour will call in the National Audit Office to investigate Teesworks if they win the General Election.

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves committed on a visit to Teesport alongside party Leader Sir Keir Starmer and Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband as they set out plans to spend £1.8bn on upgrading Britain’s ports.

During the visit, they also said they will send in the National Audit Office to investigate the controversial Teesworks scheme if they win the next general election.

It follows the inquiry into the regeneration of the former steelworks site which was critical of the governance and transparency of the handling of the multi-million-pound redevelopment.

The row erupted after Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald made allegations of corruption in the House of Commons.

The Northern Echo: Ed Miliband, Rachel Reeves and Sir Keir Starmer at Teesport on Thursday (April 18).Ed Miliband, Rachel Reeves and Sir Keir Starmer at Teesport on Thursday (April 18). (Image: PA)

Ms Reeves said: “Michael Gove should have done what he was asked to do and that is call in the National Audit Office and that is what we think should happen.

“I know if I become Chancellor of the Exchequer later this year there is not going to be much money to go around and that is why it is even important that every pound of taxpayers’ money that is spent is spent wisely.

“When it is not we need to uncover that. I think it is right that the National Audit Office is brought in to investigate this. That is what we would do.”  

The Northern Echo: Rachel Reeves.Rachel Reeves. (Image: SARAH CALDECOTT)

A 97-page report published at the end of January cleared Teesworks of any corruption or illegality, but criticised its governance and transparency, and found some decisions were not of a high enough standard when managing public money.

It also included 28 recommendations to improve processes.

Ms Reeves was speaking in response to a specific question from the press pack quizzing the Labour leadership on a range of issues - but her response was described as ‘politicised persecution’ by Simon Clarke MP, the Conservative MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.

The Northern Echo: Simon Clarke.Simon Clarke. (Image: PA)

He said: “This is so obviously a politically motivated attack on the Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, ahead of the mayoral election on May 2.

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"We have a Tees Valley Mayor who has delivered on every promise - he saved the airport, is bringing back steelmaking, and delivered the UK's first and largest successful Freeport.

"Meanwhile Labour will stop at nothing to prosecute their smear campaign against Ben and Teesworks, heedless of the damage to our local economy and local people’s jobs.

“This is nothing less than politicised persecution. The Labour Party's selective oversight not only undermines the legitimacy of established independent processes but also poses a direct threat to the prosperity that Teesworks brings to our community.”