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Leading Merseyside builder and developer Roy Stewart was charged by police on Monday with conspiracy to defraud Liverpool ratepayers.Charged with him were Derek Hatton, former deputy leader of Liverpool City Council, and former councillor Hannah Folan. All three have been bailed to appear at Liverpool City Magistrates' Court on October 29.Mr Stewart is the first construction industry figure to be charged with an offence as part of the Operation Cheetah investigation into land deals involving Liverpool council.He was among 22 people arrested last October.Mr Stewart is chairman of the R Stewart Group, which includes the Rogerson building, contracting and development businesses.The charge relates to the council's sale of an 8 ha site at Stonedale Crescent, Croxteth.In a statement Mr Stewart said: 'I am an innocent party caught up in issues of which I have no knowledge.'I have lived on Merseyside all my life and have only the best interests of the region at heart. I have worked hard to build up my businesses and I have provided employment for many Liverpool people.'I have absolutely nothing to hide and throughout their investigations I have offered the police full access to my records.'I now look forward to being given an early opportunity to establish my innocence.'