DORSET Police has said a “meticulous” investigation into Bournemouth council leader John Beesley is currently under way.

Cllr Beesley was referred to the force earlier this year after 10 councillors wrote a letter calling for an inquiry into his business interests.

It is understood that the letter alleged the leader had failed to properly disclose his interests while acting on behalf of the developer behind the Belvedere Hotel planning application, breaching the Localism Act 2011.

A spokesman for the force said: “Dorset Police is investigating an allegation made against a councillor at Bournemouth Borough Council, following a referral from the council’s monitoring officer.

“The investigation is into alleged improper conduct relating to their obligation to disclose pecuniary interests.

“This meticulous and impartial investigation may take some time to complete, so we are unable to provide any details that may prejudice the investigation while it is ongoing.”

Cllr Beesley has denied the allegation stating that he has followed the advice of the council’s legal department regarding disclosure of pecuniary interests.

He has declined to comment on the inquiry so as not to “jeopardise fair consideration of the matter”.

After the allegation was made the council announced it would engage an external party to conduct a civil inquiry. The authority said its investigation is on hold until the criminal investigation is concluded, but there will be a formal inquiry conducted by an "external assessor", "regardless of the outcome of the police investigation".

Cllr Beesley is the second Dorset council leader to be accused of an offence under the Localism Act.

Former Dorset County Council leader Spencer Flower was found guilty of breaching the Act in 2015 by failing to declare an interest in Synergy Housing Association, and was handed a six month conditional discharge.

Cllr Flower had stepped down as leader hours after entering not guilty pleas at Bournemouth Magistrates Court the previous December.

It was one of the first trials under the Localism Act.