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Norfolk County Council Conservatives back their leader Derrick Murphy - but expel one of his accusers

PUBLISHED: 14:56 31 August 2012

Norfolk County Council leader Derrick Murphy.

Norfolk County Council leader Derrick Murphy.

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An attempt to oust Norfolk County Council leader Derrick Murphy failed today - with one of the men who called for his removal expelled from the Conservative group.

A motion of no confidence in Mr Murphy’s leadership was put before the county council Tories today by West Norfolk duo John Dobson and Brian Long.

This was defeated after a vote among Tory councillors at County Hall, in Martineau Lane, Norwich.

Mr Dobson, county councillor for the Dersingham division, was then expelled from the group after complaints were made against his conduct. This expulsion is expected to last until the council’s next elections in May 2013.

Mr Dobson said: “I’ve been expelled from the Conservative group to the county council this morning. The vote result of how many voted for me or against me was not given.

“I want to emphasise I’m still a Conservative, I’m still a full Conservative Party member and I am still a county council member and the expulsion doesn’t carry forward after the end of this council, so the council will dissolve in May next year for an election.

“When that election is held, I’ve been selected as a candidate for the Conservative Party for Dersingham, where I am a sitting councillor.”

Today’s motion was the first time Mr Murphy’s position has been formally debated by the Tory county council group.

Mr Dobson added: “I didn’t expect it to go any other way but it needed to be done to clear the air and I think it’s done that.”

Mr Murphy, before the meeting, stated he had done nothing wrong and his accusers were not “Mother Teresa and her sister”.

He said today: “The vote of confidence in me was confirmed. As it was completely in confidence, I can’t tell you the result.

“The group seemed to be fairly happy.”

Mr Murphy said Mr Dobson had been censured in November 2011 and further complaints had been received.

Mr Murphy continued: “I must point out, John Dobson has a right to appeal. In the meantime he is expelled from the group.”

The Tory leader added: “I don’t want to sound odd but I don’t think the vote of confidence would go any way apart from the way it did.”

The votes at today’s meeting are the latest developments which highlights the worsening relationship between Norfolk’s Tories.

A bitter dispute has emerged between West Norfolk Council and the county council over the planned incinerator at King’s Lynn.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles called in the proposal yesterday, causing a public inquiry next year.

An independent inquiry into Mr Murphy’s conduct has also been set up by the county council’s senior standards enforcer.

This will examine the leader’s role in an email sent by a taxpayer-funded Conservative political assistant, which suggested questions to BBC Radio Norfolk.

The email sent by Kevin Vaughan stated that West Norfolk Council leader Nick Daubney was facing a leadership challenge and was struggling to come up with an alternative technology to the proposed waste plant at Saddlebow.

Elsewhere, the North West Norfolk Conservative Association has raised concerns about Mr Murphy’s conduct in a letter to party co-chairman Baroness Warsi, while the South West Norfolk association has written to the South Norfolk association, where Mr Murphy is expected to stand in next year’s council elections, asking them to consider allegations he had brought the party into disrepute.

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