The former leader of Norfolk County Council has announced he will not stand for election in May, but that he is considering taking the authority to the High Court after the chief executive secretly recorded him during a telephone conversation.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Derrick Murphy, pictured, who was found to have breached the council’s code of conduct at a standards hearing last week, is also looking at whether to report the actions of County Hall’s top officer David White to privacy and local government watchdogs.

But Bill Borrett, acting leader of the council has ruled out the council taking any disciplinary action against Mr White.

The revelation over the secret recording come during an eight-hour meeting of the council’s standard’s committee on Friday, where Mr Murphy was accused of seven code of conduct breaches.

He was cleared of all but one – that he breached the code of conduct by asking his political assistant to claim it had not been Mr Murphy’s idea to send an email to the BBC last April.

But it was Mr White’s admission that he secretly recorded a conversation with the then leader during his own interviews over that email which was the major shock at the standards hearing – and which led to Mr Murphy’s solicitor accusing the chief executive of breaching the data protection act.

Mr Murphy had already ruled out a return as leader saying he needs to focus on pursuing “important issues” against the county council.

And yesterday he announced that he and his wife would not be standing for election in May’s elections. The pair had been selected by South Norfolk Conservatives to stand in Forehoe and Clavering in South Norfolk, switching from Freebridge Lynn and Gayton and Nar Valley.

He said: “We made the decision ages ago. We felt that people would be taking pot shots at us and what I want is for the Conservatives to get as many seats as possible in the elections. If Janet and I got elected and the Conservatives did not get a majority that would not be satisfactory. But if we stand down, people concentrate on the policies and the Conservatives win then I will be happy.”

However, he has unfinished business with County Hall. In relation to the alleged breach of the data protection act, he said: “I am sitting down with people more versed than I am in law in taking that forward.

“I’ve had a number of suggestions offered to me – reporting that to the information commissioner, the local government ombudsman or possibly seeking a judicial review.

“It has meant I cannot carry on as leader. I am going to have to weigh up how much time this is going to take and I am going to have to do that very quickly. I think there is a big principle at stake here.

“A big question for me is how many people at the council knew he had made this recording, when did they know and why did I not know until the second time I was interviewed by Jenni Richards [who carried out the independent investigation]. Was this a complete one-off? I hope it was, but how can I be sure?

“This is an issue which transcends me and we need it resolved.

“There are questions over whether evidence such as this should be admissible in a hearing like that and someone needs to make a decision on that.”

A county council spokesman said that was a matter for Mr Murphy and that “the authority will respond to any such action as necessary and appropriate”.

But Mr White has been given support from Mr Murphy’s former deputy, Bill Borrett, who has been acting leader since Mr Murphy stepped down as leader last month.

He said the chief executive would not face disciplinary action.

Mr Borrett said: “We heard during the standards committee hearing from the chief executive that when he recorded his telephone conversation with the former leader, he acted not in his own interest, but in the interest of the authority and its public reputation.

“After much careful consideration we do not believe that action concerning the chief executive is necessary. As has been public knowledge since before Christmas, the chief executive is leaving the authority shortly because his post, as currently constituted, is being made redundant.

“Members of the personnel committee noted his own conclusion that his job needed reassessment in the light of the Enterprising Norfolk review and full council agreed to make his current post redundant.

“Last week’s standards hearing into the complaints about the conduct of the former leader has not changed that fact.

“This investigation has already involved the authority in considerable time and expense. Taking all this into account, I do not consider it would be sensible or appropriate to use any more of our council taxpayers’ resources to investigate this further.”

The hearing was triggered after seven members of the public complained about Mr Murphy’s behaviour in relation to an email sent in April last year.

That email was sent by Kevin Vaughan, the political assistant to the Conservative group at County Hall, to BBC Radio Norfolk, in April last year.

It was sent two days before Nick Daubney, leader of West Norfolk Council, was due to appear on Nick Conrad’s show to discuss the King’s Lynn incinerator, which has long been a source of tension between West Norfolk and Norfolk County Council.

It suggested it might “be pertinent information” for the broadcaster to know that the borough council leader was facing “a serious leadership challenge” and that his authority had failed to procure alternative technology to the plant.

When the email came to light it sparked an independent investigation at County Hall, which concluded in the summer that Mr Vaughan had acted on the wishes of leader Mr Murphy. Mr Vaughan later left the council, with a pay-off.

Following the independent report, seven people complained about Mr Murphy’s behaviour and the county council asked Jenni Richards, QC, an expert in local government, to investigate.

She concluded Mr Murphy should face the standards hearing, with her investigation finding he had asked Mr Vaughan to lie about who asked him to send the email and, in conversations with the council’s chief executive about the issue, Mr Murphy “gave answers that were misleading, evasive and lacked candour”.

But the committee cleared him of six of the seven complaints, including those which related to the conversations with Mr White.

Mr White had told the hearing he had recorded a conversation on April 27 last year and had part of it transcribed because he had feared further down the line it could be his word against Mr Murphy’s. He said Mr Murphy often spoke “in riddles”.

Mr White had told the hearing: “While others might judge that not to be in my own personal interests, I felt the interests of the authority must come first.”

Mr White said he had sought legal advice before making the recording, but, when asked at the hearing whether he would share what that advice was, he said: “It is something that I have no longer retained.”

Jonathan Dunning, branch secretary of UNISON at County Hall, who acted as an advocate for Mr Vaughan at the hearing, said the trade union would meet next week to discuss its response to the revelations.

40 comments

  • He's going to take action against the council - isn't that what he's been doing all the time he was leader. I mean, the Cory contract and other whoppers should be regarded as being "against" as opposed to "in" the interests of the council.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • I note Emma Millers comments about councillors potentially lives he has ruined while the planning process for the proposed incinerator was active. His plan obviously was to discredit the pro-recycling campaigners and now he has got caught red handed what other devious dirty tricks has he been involved in. The planning inspector should now refuse to look at the planning application and reject it as there is proof of no level playing field, now we know NCC has interfered with the planning process. A breathing space of five to ten years after should be initiated while a full independent investigation on County Hall staff. Cory Wheelabrator should be part of the investigation as they have had numerous fines for pollution and fraud but NCC thought this was ok!

    Report this comment

    Alan Allan

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

  • No Tdoff, we know where the incinerator will go when the dust has settled. 75 miles east of the toffs in West Norfolk to where the immigrants and the poverty stricken wont know how to object and the government lap dog MP wont raise an eyebrow.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • Sound comments Emma Miller! I think someone needs to look into the culpability of Bill Borrett and others in the Kevingate affair before drawing a line under it.

    Report this comment

    Scooby

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

  • I've been censored; what's new!

    Report this comment

    Police Commissioner ???

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • He said: “We made the decision ages ago...", and thus shows the utter contempt in which he holds the electorate and local democracy. "“I’ve had a number of suggestions offered to me" unfortunately the Code of Conduct on this website does not permit me to add my own...

    Report this comment

    martin wallis

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • Nice to see good being done! However, this isn't finished. I am not sure Borrett et al will be smelling of roses.....

    Report this comment

    Scooby

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • Bird Brain, with the impending cut to your council tax benefit you too will contribute to the half mil you would so gladly give to the evil one.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • Trouble is that if you work in the public sector everyone thinks it is OK to have a go and say what they like. You have to be careful though on a blog because you can still be sued quite easily as was recently the case with several who took people to the High Court. Defamation and libel actions are taken all the time. It cost a couple their home a few months ago just for something they said on Twitter. Obviously the news has not reached Norfolk yet. No surprises there.

    Report this comment

    Canary Brain

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • Looks like the Norfolk branch of “Don’t build anything near us” group are getting up a new head of pointless steam.

    Report this comment

    Dickens

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

  • Norfolk County Council must fight this all the way.Why should any more public money be expended for one man's hubris?

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • Murphy, on his own admission, knew about the secretly recorded telephone conversation well before Christmas. He must also have assumed that it would become general knowledge when Jenni Richards reported to NCC. Why did he not make his threats of legal action against NCC until 1st February? Was he keeping them up his sleeve in the hope that they would win him some sympathy, if he wasn't cleared by the Standards Committee? Separately, this event would explain the rumours circulating before Christmas that there had been some kind of rift between Murphy and White.

    Report this comment

    Nemesis

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

  • Derrick Murphy would fight with his own shadow what is wrong with this man ?

    Report this comment

    Jack

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

  • I think it is disgusting that this man was tape recorded secretly. I hope he takes the council to the cleaners and walks off with at least half a million. People on here seem very jealous of him and it shows. Very 'Norfolk'.

    Report this comment

    Canary Brain

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • I now understand what David White was on about when he accused Derrick Murphy talks in riddles. Derrick Murphy stitched the public up with an incinerator that is close to bankrupting the County. He got caught out red handed manipulating other councillors in my opinion worse than Chris Huhnes speeding fiasco. Chris Huhnes actions only had consequences within his family and also his former wife was also guilty. Derrick Murphy ruined Kevin Vaughan’s career and pension that will have consequences for the rest of his life. David White crossed Derrick Murphy and now rue the day he stood up to him. If I were Nick Daubney I would claim damages off Derrick Murphy for stress and anxiety he has to him and his family. Derrick Murphy will be using Rate payers hard earned cash if he decides to take legal proceedings but the public never had this luxury from the council to fight the incinerator that has caused them stress and anxiety.

    Report this comment

    Emma Miller

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • Further whatever Cllr. Murphy's grief with David White, it is not of NCC concern. The latter is on record of saying that the recording was made purely for 'his personal reasons', it was made on a private phone and how can it be possible that Norfolk taxpayers are held liable for the personal actions of their staff. Breaking the data protection act is virtually impossible to police, so trust by staff and Cllrs. in each other adherence to this law is the only regulation there is, unless private communication equipment is to be banned for official business.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • Ca Moron isa moron My strong feeling is that you have not retained the grey matter you were born with but it is just an opinion - a bit like your opinion - except yours is worthless….. Very Norfolk of you though

    Report this comment

    Canary Brain

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • NCC should now step back from the waste burner, rather than make Norfolk taxpayers fight an Inquiry, paying for it and then having tyo pay another 20 million to a known polluter for not getting their way. Further those who have undertaken a study into enhanced landfill mining in 2006, should dig it out and realise that Norfolk needs more jobs and expertise in modern recovery of resources, a cyclical sustainable base for the future. If it is seen that nobody, once again, has a plan B, then now is the time to start looking at supporting Kings Lynn BC proposal for recycling as well as other modern practises, for example the recycling of much used rare earth elements.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

  • Mr Murphy is now, Yesterdays Man, not nice to say but it is a phrase Mr Murphy used himself against Paul Morse as ex leader of the lib dems during a much publicised spat. Lets hope there is, at least, a clean sweep of cabinet members that he hand picked preferably with a return to decision making by full council rather than a cabinet of friends who are political allies. If Murphy does take NCC to court he risks a great deal as White took legal advice prior to recording the incident and can justify the reasons for doing what he felt he had to do. Borrett has already clarified that publicly announcing that NCC would take no action against David White, as a Murphy supporter, he must realise who was right and who was in the wrong in this instance. I fear that the threat of legal action may be an attempt to get an out of court settlement. NCCs internal legal advisors are inadequate so I hope they will take advice from Jenni Richards QC expert in local government law, and reject any attempt to settle in favour of a full hearing before a judge during which the public will at last hear all the shenanigans that have taken place within County Hall. I have long argued that politics does not belong in local government and all that has unfolded proves that point. Those sitting in County Hall should have only the interests of Norfolk, and the individuals who put them in their seats, in their minds not political policies.

    Report this comment

    Canary Boy

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

  • Maybe Mr Murphy might like to send his questions in to cabinet in 100 words or less? (Not that he'd get any sort of meaningful reply as they try very hard to be evasive and self congratulatory, as well he knows.)

    Report this comment

    User Removed

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • It is ironic that the three candidates that want to step into Derrick Murphy’s pay packet are all the ones that helped him lose his job. They are the ones that have been heavily involved procuring the incinerator. Derrick Murphy and his strong personality thought he was invincible by rubbing shoulders with the top Tories hierarchy namely Eric Pickles to discredit residents of West Norfolk. Take a look at the trail of destruction Derrick Murphy has left in his short term in office. By perusing outdated technology to treat Norfolk’s waste. He has ruined the following councillor’s lives and he is worried about a tape recording. The following decided to do Derrick Murphy’s dirty work and will suffer next County elections: Richard Rockcliffe, Jean Mickleburg, Michael Langwade, Harry Humphries, Sheilagh Hutson to name a few. Trail of damage at County Hall: Kevin Vaughan David White Janet Murphy and others. Nick Conrad at BBC Radio Norfolk. Local Heroes at Kings Lynn who decided to listen to the public and stand up to Derrick Murphy, Nick Daubney, Brian Long, and John Dobson.

    Report this comment

    Emma Miller

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

  • does Murphy still have to undergo training in standards and ethics? has the NCC put this work out to open tender? I'm sure there would be quite a few people who'd like to 'mentor' Mr Murphy... form an orderly queue, please: now, what am I bid? anyone sr anyone start me with a pony?

    Report this comment

    martin wallis

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • I say, that's rather base. Ergot in your millet this morning, budgy?

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • Daisy your pet incinerator will not be built in King's Lynn. You are obviousily a sales rep for Wheelabrator. It is the most stupid idea to put a waste incinerator on a floodplain. There is no need for a waste incinerator. I must have hit a nerve. Oh my God not Coltishall, The cons will be in for a shock at election time when we vote you lot out. The people of Lynn are not sheep we have rights and we will protect our children from this Tory War over this incinerator, which is being used as a weapon against us,. We are all sick of your constant ranting on a topic you can't even understand. Go read some books on waste incineration and learn something. There is recycling these days you know. So go a blow your trumpet at someone else.

    Report this comment

    Jack

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • I think there is going to be another hushed up silence buying payout for Murphy just like it appears happened with Kevin Vaughan. Under these circumstances I think the public are entitled to know what took place under KV's employment hearing and how much he was paid to leave in silence. This should herald the start of an in-depth investigation into the paid employees at County Hall. Starting with the legal people who must have been behind the cover ups. Murphy's bluffing for paid silence, when he withdraws we will know he has been bought off, whatever his excuse. Is he repaying the costs of all the investigations in a weekly amount? Now we know Borrett is next, then Plantlife, Iffey .........

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • Honest John- I agree that we should know what the settlement was for Kevin Vaughan in monetary terms. It is our money after all. There have been many cases in the national media about pay-offs to top bankers,ambulance CEOs, railway officials - all sorts of people. We are told of the amounts involved in graphic detail in fact that's how ' joe public' found out in the first place. So what is so different with Kevin Vaughan? we even know how much the CEO will be getting when he goes! It was passed in council! So what is this settlement behind closed doors? Why is this man so protected? There was talk about he having a grudge about his treatment by Adult and Childrens' Services Department - something about private school fees, was it? This has got to be sorted out, not for us to take revenge on this misguided soul who almost thanked Murphy for the rough treatment he received over the email affair, but to get to the bottom of something which sounds extremely murky.

    Report this comment

    maryjane

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • .a senior Councillor told me recently that the whole setup was run like a soviet with a dictator in charge and councillors and council officers working in a atmosphere of fear-sounds a great place!

    Report this comment

    maryjane

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • They don't want you to hear about the waste incinerator is because Coltishall is the right spot for a waste incinerator much better than King's Lynn. A floodplain is the wrong location, NCC have no respect for the hundreds of people who died in the floods. Families in South Lynn and West Lynn have stress and anxiety living on a floodplain not to mention the pollution that is there already. To try and dump a dirty stinking Tory Wheelabrator waste incinerator on them is just evil. It is a disgrace that the conservative group was happy to move Derrick Murphy to South Norfolk and leave his constituents in King's Lynn with the fear of living under a toxic poisonous cloud. The conservatives group have no morals. Derrick Murphy has no morals, are all the cabinet members the same. We don't want waste incinerators in Norfolk. Roll on election day we will fight for Democracy.

    Report this comment

    Jack

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • Cllr. Murphy, still, said more than on one occasion, that he always has the up-most interest of the Tory party in mind when making his decisions. Keeping this scandalous split in public, further dragging it out, must surely mean that he wants the Tory party in Norfolk reformed, all the way and into May.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • Where is my comment

    Report this comment

    Jack

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • Well, at least the people of South Norfolk won't have this character trying to ram a massive incinerator down their throats, whilst clearing off out of the way of it. If he goes to law, I hope it is he who pays the bills and not the long-suffering public.

    Report this comment

    T Doff

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • White recorded him because, to paraphrase, he thought the other party to be evasive and a liar. In such a situation why not cover your own backside when it comes down to his word against the other's. I dread to think what tenuous case DM will bring against NCC, when the situation is almost entirely of his own making. Rest assured if the current shower remain in control after May there will be an obscene out-of-court settlement to keep the lid on more unpleasant truths being aired publicly. No wonder he and wifey have stood down. He must be desperate for the tories to retain control, because a pay-off for withdrawing a civil action will vastly outweigh the return from remaining as a backbencher.

    Report this comment

    Police Commissioner ???

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • So Mr Murphy thinks he will succeed? First of all it is not illegal to rely on taped evidence. Second of all the QC made it clear that he findings did not rely on the phone call in any event. Third of all this is nothing to do with the Council, they did not order this taping and it was not done on Council equipment Fourth of all there is no quantum of damages here. The most Murphy could expect to receive as damages in a Court is about one penny. And he can pay his own and Mr White's court costs. I rather think his brief has given him false hope by misquoting the Telecommunications Act. But I would enjoy seeing him fall flat on his face again.

    Report this comment

    Electra

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • Well, at least the people of South Norfolk won't have this character trying to ram a massive incinerator down their throats, whilst clearing off out of the way of it. If he goes to law, I hope it is he who pays the bills and not the long-suffering public.

    Report this comment

    T Doff

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • The more I read and hear about this story the more murky it becomes. Vaughan talked about strained relations with officers at the hearing. It came out in Murphy's evidence that he and his cabinet tried to carry out a purge of senior officers through a review. Murphy said he tried to have Kevin Vaughan reinstated but David White, the CEO blocked his return. Next Vaughan receives a pay off and isn't allowed to say anything. It was also revealed that Mr Vaughan had made complaints against Adult and Children's Services at NCC and that an external independent investigator had been appointed to carry out an investigation into the conduct of these two departments at NCC. Derrick Murphy claims that Vaughan was suspended whilst he was out of the country and the CEO David White secretly recorded telephone conversations with him. Why was the branch secretary of Unison involved, not just an ordinary union rep? I can't help but wonder if all these events and threads are linked together but are we ever going to discover the truth to all this.

    Report this comment

    pig in trough

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • I think it's brilliant he was recorded and jealous - no, I don't think so. How could anyone be jealous of a worm.

    Report this comment

    Sandy.L

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • Kings Lynn & West Norfolk's infant death rate for 2011 was 8.2 per 1,000 live births, the same as Birmingham's rate for that year and very different to the rest of Norfolk's infant death rates. Norfolk 4.9 Breckland 4.7 Broadland 4.4 Great Yarmouth 5.4 King's Lynn and West Norfolk 8.2 North Norfolk 5.8 Norwich 3.2 South Norfolk 3.2

    Report this comment

    Jack

    Friday, February 8, 2013

  • I take issue with Jack, the family having had a relative who died in the 1953 floods in the area he is bandying about. Hundreds did not die in Lynn or even Norfolk and many who died in NW Norfolk and the Thames estuary would not have died if they had been in conventional housing and not beach bungalows or emergency prefabs.The defences are much reinforced, there was no problem having a beet factory, muck works, paper factory and nor did Daubney have any problem with redevelopment with housing of an area which should have been left as industrial. Coltishall is not the best place for an incinerator- Saddlebow is.It can take waste from the populated area of West Norfolk and from Norwich and from the eastern fenland area. It has better roads and sits beside power lines. Teh anti incinerator campaign has always been nimby led by Daubney and I still question the validity of the council " referendum" on the topic. It cast its net over an area much larger than will be directly affected and gave remarkably high return. Murphy is no angel but the career enhancing campaign coming out of Lynn council is not exactly shiny.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

  • Recordings by one party of another are not prohibited so long as the one party makes is clear that the recording falls within the allowed parameters. Mr White certainly did that at the hearing and the QC's report made that clear as well. So I would suggest the NCC take some decent legal advice and tell Murphy to hop it.

    Report this comment

    Electra

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

  • I hope he does go to law and reveals more about about how this undemocratic corrupt secret club goes about it's dirty devious business with our flaming money.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Related links

Other Politics Articles

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Norfolk Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 10°C

min temp: 13°C

Five-day forecast

loading...

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT