Calls for a standards hearing into the conduct of the former leader of Norfolk County Council to be held in public have been backed by opposition councillors.

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And council officers have switched the venue for Derrick Murphy’s standards hearing because so many people are expected to want to attend.

Mr Murphy stepped down as leader of the authority earlier this month, to focus on the standards hearing triggered by complaints from seven members of the public over his part in the sending of an email.

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 a 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”.

That, she said, meant he did not treat Mr Vaughan with respect, amounting to a breach of the councillor code of conduct and bringing his office and the council into disrepute.

The standards committee must decide whether it agrees and whether to sanction Mr Murphy, which could see him censured, ordered to undertake training or even barred from council premises.

But whether the public and press will be allowed into the whole of the standards hearing will not be known until the hearing starts, although the council’s head of law has said it can be argued that: “The public nature of a politician’s role means that there can be no general expectation of privacy and that a politician must expect to have information as to potential wrong doing in a public role enter into the public domain.”

She stresses it is the committee’s decision, but Mr Murphy himself has said he wants it in public so “justice can be done and justice can be seen to be done” and opposition councillors have agreed.

Mike Brindle, leader of the opposition Liberal Democrat group, said: “It is Norfolk County Council’s reputation on the line and it needs to be held in public. It’s a real test of the council’s willingness to appear open and to put its house in order.”

George Nobbs, leader of the Labour group, and Andrew Boswell, Green county councillor for Nelson division in Norwich, have both said the meeting should be public.

The meeting had been due to take place in the Cranworth Room at County Hall, which has a capacity for 60 people, but the county council has confirmed it has moved it to the Edwards Room, which can accommodate about 100 members of the public.

20 comments

  • There is a clear public interest in holding this meeting in public and it is heartening that the complainants, Mr Murphy and other senior County Councillors feel that it should be so – let’s hope the Committee agrees as it would be hugely regrettable if it was held in private and could further damage the reputation of NCC. Friday 1st February 2013 at 10.00 a.m. Edwards Room at County Hall for those enquiring about the timing.

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    Alistair Beales

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

  • I agree that it should be public. Justice must not only be done, but be seen to be done.

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    julygirl

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

  • And why Mr. Cameron Isaliar do you think that is? What exactly do you know?

    Report this comment

    disolushund

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

  • Comment to your hearts content you silly people, but remember anything about DM is heavily censored.

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    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

  • If what you say is true Electra-will the very silly Dr Kemp remain as Murphy's political agent? I think it was he who arranged for the Murphys to be selected as prospective councillor candidates in the May county elections in South Norfolk. This possible move on Kemp's part has much wider implications which may well come to light shortly.

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    maryjane

    Thursday, January 31, 2013

  • If he has nothing to hide then there will not be a problem for a public meeting. No cover up either if it is done in public

    Report this comment

    Jacob Burns

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

  • There is a clear public interest in holding this meeting in public and it is heartening that the complainants, Mr Murphy and other senior County Councillors feel that it should be so – let’s hope the Committee agrees as it would be hugely regrettable if it was held in private and could further damage the reputation of NCC. Friday 1st February 2013 at 10.00 a.m. Edwards Room at County Hall for those enquiring about the timing.

    Report this comment

    Alistair Beales

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

  • I am sure that the Norse "heavies" will be out in strength anyway, but given their inability over several hours on Saturday 12th January 2013 to apprehend an inquistive man and his dog in County Hall we should not have to worry too much.

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    Nemesis

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

  • If the inquiry is held in public will the public be allowed to see some the members of the standard committee give him a nod and wink and shake Derricks hand before entering the hall? Or is this done in the top floor of County Hall.

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    batemansusan

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

  • If a very healthy level of public interest stirs a few hundred or more to attend and then the Chair of the committee decides it should be held in camera,there could be public order implications so.Borrett will have to organise the riot police round the back of county hall this time.

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    Peter Watson

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

  • Yes by all means make it public but it might be a good idea to tell us the date.

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    Trevor Sadd

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

  • Despite Mr. Murphy's declaration that he thinks this should be held in public, I doubt he does. As he's used to getting what he wants, let's call his bluff on this! A chance for NCC to redeem themselves perhaps.

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    disolushund

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

  • Mr Murphy's chances of getting off just increased. Apparently he and his so called legal adviser have had a huge spat and Dr C H Kemp, the silliest person in Norfolk, has flounced off into the sunset. With him on your side you are bound to fail but now he is sulking somewhere who knows what will happen.

    Report this comment

    Electra

    Thursday, January 31, 2013

  • the hearing will be on Fri. 01.02.2014, 10 am, now in the Edwards room. I hope its big enough.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

  • Even if this farce is held in public the result will be a predetermined whitewash. Like the so called "planning" meetings for the Incinerator, the whole sorry bunch will be working to a previously agreed and well rehearsed script.The only way we can prevent them inflicting further harm on this county is to be rid of them at the earliest opportunity.

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    mrsmurphy

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

  • Derrick Murphy was used by NCC to get the incinerator passed through planning by virtue of his strong brash character. It is now apparent he has worked solidly with Cory Wheelabrator and used every trick in the book to discredited fellow councillors and same time had total disregard his constituents of Freebridge Kings Lynn. We must not forget Derrick Murphy and some of his fellow councillors contributed to putting the fear of god into the public by getting involved with Cory Wheelabrator a company that has a long history of fines for fraud and Polluting. NCC selected corrupt company costing £43 million more so wonder why the public do not trust them. The stress and anxiety Derrick Murphy and NCC has created will never diminish unless the incinerator is rejected by the planning inspector or Eric Pickles.

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    Knee deep In Toxic ash

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

  • One imagines he is totally chilled about it. If a spell in Lansberg is not an impediment to becoming Reichskanzler, why should he think a little bit of dirty laundry would prevent a triumphant return as Leader.

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    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

  • I am sure they are busy rehearsing their lines like crazy, mustn't fluff it in front of a big audience. McNeill will be on hand with a prompt if any of them come a cropper.

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    Police Commissioner ???

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

  • It is the 'proposed Kings Lynn incinerator', EDP, you make it sound as if its all done and dusted. Most of the objectors to his conduct are members of the public, our cllr.s did not see much wrong with it as it looks like, so the meeting should be held in public. Its quiet hard to find an unlocked door in county hall anyway, so it might as well be.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

  • Yes, Mary Jane I think it is true given the source (3 separate Tory councillors!) but you are quite right. Can you hear that? It is the sound of Norfolk holding its breath until after tomorrow. Then we will know what will be happening. There is all sorts of stuff that should have been announced and is being held back until we know what is happening with Murphy. As for silly Dr Kemp, the only reason he has shot himself in both feet is that he didnt have any more feet to shoot. What a wally. In fact the whole management team in South Norfolk should be put out to pasture. What a terrible decision they made when the chose Murphy and Mrs Murphy as you reminded us.

    Report this comment

    alecto

    Thursday, January 31, 2013

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

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