The leader of Norfolk County Council has announced he is temporarily stepping down so he can concentrate on clearing his name at a standards hearing.

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Derrick Murphy, the leader of the Conservative-controlled council is to be brought before his own council’s standards committee over his role in the sending of an email which appeared to undermine a fellow Tory council leader.

And Mr Murphy, after consulting his own group, today decided to step down as leader until after the standards hearing. While a date for that hearing has yet to be fixed, it is expected to be within a matter of weeks.

Mr Murphy, in a statement sent to county councillors, said: “I am writing to inform you that it is my intention to step down as leader of the county council until the standards committee hearing takes place into complaints against me which were highlighted in the Eastern Daily Press on January 8. The hearing is likely to take place within weeks but has yet to be finalised.

“As you may imagine my preparation for the standards committee hearing is taking a considerable amount of my time and attention at a time in the year when as leader I should be focused on working with my cabinet to prepare for the 2013 Budget. “It is my hope and expectation that I will clear my name and return to the position as leader, but in the meantime, I am standing down as leader of the county council with immediate effect, for what I regards as a temporary period of absence.”

Deputy leader Bill Borrett will be acting leader until such time as a new leader is appointed by council.

The complaints surround an email which was sent by Kevin Vaughan, the then 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.

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 subsequently resigned as the political assistant to the Conservative group and seven complainants - John Martin, Ron Cornell, Jenny Perryman, Joy Franklin, Christine Hall, Mark Russell and Stuart Wilkie - have alleged that Mr Murphy had failed to treat both Mr Daubney and Mr Vaughan with respect and that he had brought his office or the authority into disrepute.

Barrister Jenni Richards, QC, was appointed by the county council to compile a report after those complaints and concluded she believed Mr Murphy did have a case to answer, which led to the scheduling of a standards hearing.

• See tomorrow’s EDP and Norwich Evening News for the full story.

33 comments

  • On another matter is anyone else disturbed by this weeks announcement that NCC have miraculously found an extra £8M to put towards such things as services for vulnerable people and young people amongst other things. I seem to remember clearly that they have previously cut all of these as part of their 'Big Conversation' This now seems like blatant electioneering. People of Norfolk wake up!!!

    Report this comment

    BigX

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • My sympathy lies with the people of West Norfolk 65.516 people ignored. We are fighting for DEMOCRACY. Conservatives will be thrashed at the election over this. Enjoy the dole queue.

    Report this comment

    Jack

    Monday, January 14, 2013

  • £Why is Kevin Vaughan appearing in Cllr Murphy's defence?

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

  • Is he allowed to step down 'temporarily'...? I find this all very bizarre. And now BB is in charge....Surely, if the current leader is not able to carry out his duties whatever the circumstances, then he should be replaced by someone who can. The article (and he) mentions this could take weeks, what if it takes months? 'Until such time as a new leader is appointed'...this sounds like a great opportunity for NCC and the Conservative Group to regain the integrity that sadly has all but disappeared and help turn around their fortunes at the next elections.

    Report this comment

    Scooby

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • Dickens you are right he deserves a break Retirement but not on a fat pension.

    Report this comment

    Sherbert

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • Lets hope the man has gone for good as he has brought nothing but trouble to an already discredited organisation.

    Report this comment

    John L Norton

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • Dickens what are you talking about or are you on the pay roll. 65000 people said no and he still knew better and that will be his down fall.

    Report this comment

    Sweet cheeks

    Friday, January 11, 2013

  • Dickens I think you should get your facts right on who is the bully. As for the standards committee they dare not go against him as they are to weak. While DM is about I will not vote for any tory county councillor and i ask all of you not to either, they have become a weak joke

    Report this comment

    Sweet cheeks

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • There must be many Conservative councillors who are now nervously looking at the rapidly approaching cliff edge otherwise known as the forthcoming election. Bill Borrett is one of them...tick tock, tick tock.....

    Report this comment

    BigX

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • Why,; when Murphy has admitted that he was the person who instructed the hapless Kevin to send the email was it necessary to have an investigation by a QC when it could have been discussed at a full Council meeting thus saving a great deal of money to the taxpayer? , What is. the point of having it go before a standards committee when the committee is appointed by Murphy and the so called independent person is well-known by the County Councillors, he having acted in a similar capacity before in other cases? Why is it that the Standards committee can convene so quickly, according to the Radio Norfolk,by lst week in February. when it takes so long over other cases? why did Murphy say that he should be working on the Budget however this distraction has prevented him from doing this-I thought we had a Finance Director! and surely the Budget has already been decided by now and is about to go to full council? The old adage is 'when the heat is on get out of the kitchen' is very appropriate here!!

    Report this comment

    maryjane

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

  • Dickens - for someone who pulled Brian Long apart for changing his views, as littletony on the LN site you're doing a fine job yourself. Having written to the anti-incinerator group with all NCC's little secrets you turn against them when they don't take any notice of you. Now you're cosying up to DM.

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

  • Don't gt too excited everyone. It is not exactly unusual for people to "step down" to prepare their "defence" It is not an intention to never reappear. If he wanted to step down for ever then he would resign would he not? I trust those on the committee who support the people of Norfolk (ie not the Tories) will defend us stoutly and I hope the results will be published. After all we've paid for all of this.

    Report this comment

    Electra

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

  • Is he allowed to step down 'temporarily'...? I find this all very bizarre. And now BB is in charge....Surely, if the current leader is not able to carry out his duties whatever the circumstances, then he should be replaced by someone who can. The article (and he) mentions this could take weeks, what if it takes months? 'Until such time as a new leader is appointed'...this sounds like a great opportunity for NCC and the Conservative Group to regain the integrity that sadly has all but disappeared and help turn around their fortunes at the next elections.

    Report this comment

    Scooby

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • Make it a permanent step down and then it will be welcomed. Until then, NCC remains tainted by one persons own selfish motivation.

    Report this comment

    Ded Sterile

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • It would certainly be very interesting to hear from members of the Conservative group at the County as to what they think about all this.This must have been a Conservative party decision but exactly how was it done?Et tu Borrett perhaps.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • It will be interesting to see if his party re-elect him to the leadership or whether they put the boot in... this is probably the only chance the Norfolk tories will get to make themselves electable in May. Still, Dickens, at least he's got you to fawn over him.

    Report this comment

    User Removed

    Friday, January 11, 2013

  • This fiasco would never have got to this stage if he temporary stood down as leader when the incinerator was first talked about at Kings Lynn. His first priority should have been his constituents of Freebridge instead he opted for huge financial rewards as leader. I maybe wrong but County Hall should have ordered him to step down as he has a prejudicial interest also he accused supporters of the anti-incinerator campaign of harassment by the way he never informed the police authorities of this. This meant he could not perform his duties as County Councillor of Freebridge.

    Report this comment

    Alan Allan

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • Dickens-you will be telling us next that your first name is Charles! Your statement is an affront to all genuine military historians-this man writes textbooks for kids!!

    Report this comment

    maryjane

    Friday, January 11, 2013

  • This man deserves a break. He has been bullied and attacked by an anti incinerator group with an agenda against him. I trust he uses the time wisely to consult with his legal team about taking action for damages.

    Report this comment

    Dickens

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • This £8 billion is highly questionable.I suspect it is double-counting of measures already announced such as £3.5million for the Northern By-pass.Anyway it is inverted intergenerationalism.Older folk have done well relative to the younger generation and let;s not forget it has been done at the expense of youth services.It is upside-down priorities.The loss of the Education Maintenance Allowance too was a big mistake.That £30 made all the difference,The young should not be given a burden they cannot bear.The Prince's Trust report as reported in the EDP confirms this.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • An excellent suggestion D.ickens - lets hope Cllrs Daubney and Long also take your advice and will be consulting their legal teams for your own relentless agenda against them as littletony on the LN site?

    Report this comment

    User Removed

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • Music to my ears that Murphy has stepped down to "prepare his defence". Get out and stay out Murphy for the credibility of the council. Hopefully this will start the ball rolling for other enquiries into NCC. Such as Murphy and Jordan's joint compulsion to buy ex RAF Coltishall (with no business plan) just to stop a private investor, who has a business plan, from buying it. No doubt the Standards Committee will find no case to answer even though there is potential overwhelming evidence against. The number of complaints should be enough to sink him any employer would be waving him goodbye a long time ago!

    Report this comment

    Commander500

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

  • Don't know whats scarier, leaving Bill Borrett in charge! But agree this should have been a permanent decision if the Tories are wanting any chance of being re elected.

    Report this comment

    Marigold

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • The anti incinerator campaigners continue with their weird bullying tactics against this councillor doing his job - This man is a military historian and has forgotten more about tactics than the silly campaigners ever learned.

    Report this comment

    Dickens

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

  • Listening to Radio Norfolk this morning shows what little grasp the ordinary member of Norfolk's public have on what is going on, and Nick Conrad would hardly be able to recognise arrogance in another person. All talk of this being a waste of taxpayer's money shows they know nothing about the true costs to them if the incinerator goes ahead, or the true costs if Coltishall goes ahead. These are a tiny few of the 'deals' that go on behind closed doors, to benefit a few, at the expense of the rest. The chap from Mildenhall was spot on, if any of these people were employees in a private company they would have been sacked years ago, and for some of their deals, quite possibly a court appearance. If this is such a bad time then the person dealing with it, Fifi McNeill should have taken this into consideration before allowing it to hang out for over 5 months, no taxpayers on the phone in thought she was a waste of money. Public apathy voted these cllrs in for the second time, and it will happen again in May.

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

  • Allan Allan.. "huge financial rewards".. You obviously have no clue. How did "Education Maintenance Allowance" which was one of the biggest waste of taxpayers money get into this debate?

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

  • Ah yes, good ploy. Get it out of the way well before the election and it will all be a distant memory for most of the dopey electorate come the big day. His well-wishers will have started shining their placards ready for the sham hearing. 'After consulting his own group', the same group that includes the substantial majority of standards committee members. Not that I'm suggesting these same group members are party to any plot for a fast-tracked whitewash. Of course, putting aside the lack of independence in the 'group' that will judge DM's conduct, to really clear his name would take the rest of eternity, and I was not aware that he had discovered the secret of immortality. Remove the first 't' and now you're talking his language.

    Report this comment

    Police Commissioner ???

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • Sounds like he is already thinking of making money out of his incompetents Dickens, legal team probably all on our tax. As for using his time wisely, not sure if that is possible.

    Report this comment

    Marigold

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • No Dickens, this man doesn't deserve a break. It's his (and others) actions on many fronts that have been bringing NCC into disrepute. I'll add, I'm not an anti-incinerator supporter. It's just that the burden of their decisions will be borne by the honest Council Tax payers of the county for a considerable time to come.

    Report this comment

    Ded Sterile

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • As much as some would like to see him accrue damages paid for by taxes and as much as they would like to burn jobs and act against the mandated three R's, ignored by Cllr.'s Murphy, Borett, Jordan et al, this has nothing to do with the case in hand, which would have never occurred if Cllr. Murphy acted up to the contract he had with Norfolk's electorate. I trust that people realise that the cyclical resource economy is a burgeoning business to the tune of 6-10 billion per year in Germany, jobs and expertise and recycling that is being bypassed by the... oh what the Dickens....

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • Music to my ears that Murphy has stepped down to "prepare his defence". Get out and stay out Murphy for the credibility of the council. Hopefully this will start the ball rolling for other enquiries into NCC. Such as Murphy and Jordan's joint compulsion to buy ex RAF Coltishall (with no business plan) just to stop a private investor, who has a business plan, from buying it. No doubt the Standards Committee will find no case to answer even though there is potential overwhelming evidence against. The number of complaints should be enough to sink him any employer would be waving him goodbye a long time ago!

    Report this comment

    Commander500

    Thursday, January 10, 2013

  • And there goes Dickens again. Poor diddums deserves a break - Oh no, he doesn't!

    Report this comment

    Electra

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • Hmm, ethered. Let's try again. DM does not deserve a break. Let him and NCC be judges by their actions. No, I'm not an anti-incinerator supporter, just a concerned Council Tax Payer who's going to foot the bill for all the incompetence.

    Report this comment

    Ded Sterile

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

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