A forthcoming standards hearing into the former leader of Norfolk County Council could have “implications for his future as a politician” if held in public.

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

That is a comment made by Victoria McNeill, the county council’s monitoring officer and head of law, in a report which councillors will read before deciding whether a standards hearing into Derrick Murphy will be held entirely in public or partly in private.

But she also makes the case 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.”

Mr Murphy is facing a standards hearing after 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 that 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 hearing where fellow councillors will decide whether they agree or not and what sanctions they will take if they do, will take place next Friday.

While the executive summary of Ms Richards’ investigation has been published, the committee must decide whether the full report should be discussed in public or private.

And their decision will determine whether the whole of the meeting is held in public or whether part of it will be behind closed doors.

And, in Ms McNeill’s report, which councillors will use to make that decision, she states there are likely to be “significant detrimental consequences for Mr Murphy if this information [the full report] is released” and the report “may well have implications for his future as a politician”.

But she adds: “It can be argued, however, 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 says the executive summary does not contain details of any wrongdoing and “it is arguable that the details need to be made available to the complainants and the electorate so they can have an informed view on how the investigator reached her finding.”

She stresses it is the committee’s decision, but that it is arguable that disclosure of the report would not breach the data protection act and that it could be argued the public interest in disclosing it (and therefore allowing the public into the whole of the meeting) outweighs the public interest in keeping it private.

Mr Murphy, who stepped down as leader earlier this month to focus on the standards hearing, has said he wants the hearing to be in public and remains confident he will be exonerated. He has also said he intends to call Mr Vaughan as a witness.

• See today’s EDP for more on this story.

24 comments

  • Sweet Cheeks, why the D.icke.ns did you ask cllr langwade that?

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • I gather the QC herself will be recommending the release of the full report to the public, what does that tell you? McNeill wants it concealed as much as Murphy and David White if not more as is it will reveal gross misconduct from the previous episode that she covered up. This will not be swept under the carpet like before, seven members of the public are involved this time and they should now be supported not publicly criticised like they were on Radio Norfolk. Let's hope the complainants push for an inquiry into NCC over this, McNeill is an abuse of Norfolk taxpayer's money, knowingly covering up the sins of all and sundry at County Hall, with the help of the Standards Committee, and she's equally as guilty as Murphy.

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Friday, January 25, 2013

  • I have heard the following rumoured. 1. A formal objection has been made to Cllr Langwade sitting on the Standards Committee. 2. The complainants have told the Monitoring Officer that they are ready to challenge any decision made by the Standards Committee that is irrational or perverse. 3. A corporate complaint has separately been made against NCC in respect of the failure of the Chief Executive to commission an external investigation into Cllr Murphy’s role last May. I would urge as many people as possible to attend the Standards Committee meeting at 10.00 am on Friday to demonstrate the level of public interest in this issue.

    Report this comment

    Nemesis

    Sunday, January 27, 2013

  • The article appears to be trying to protect others who may be implicated in this, even Ms McNeill and the CEO . The district who appears to have adopted both he and his wife is South Norfolk it is extremely active in supporting them and preserving Murphy's name with Kemp as his political agent. This is a reflection of toryism in Norfolk unless something is done about it quickly it's the end of the line and that may be a good thing. They have been warned on many occasions at a local and national level but are too arrogantstupid to have done anything about it.

    Report this comment

    maryjane

    Saturday, January 26, 2013

  • Another twist - if Vaughan was paid to go and keep quiet it will be interesting to. see if he turns up at the enquiry to give evidence for Murphy

    Report this comment

    maryjane

    Sunday, January 27, 2013

  • The initial interview and facts, before Mr. Vaughan was 'dismissed' with a pay off for his gallant conduct on behalf of Mr. Murphy, must become public record as it has taken place and is on record. Ms O'Neill's recommendations, that all parties have to agree that the meeting be held in public also speaks volumes as Cllr. Murphy is on record saying that he wants it to be in public. So which party, if its in the interest of Mr. Vaughans future employment to have this issue raised in full openness , is actually asking this to be heard behind closed doors? Or is this down to Ms. O Neill to decide and this ghost person, refusing to an open meeting, does not really exist?

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Saturday, January 26, 2013

  • Nemesis, you suggest that there was once a point when the public did have faith in the County Hall standards and ethics regime. Not from my experience!

    Report this comment

    Catty

    Friday, January 25, 2013

  • Because he is touting for his mate, I always thought you had to attend the standards with an open mind!

    Report this comment

    Sweet cheeks

    Tuesday, January 29, 2013

  • What a heavily censored webpage. Spot on maryjane, this isn't about Murphy anymore, if this report is made public it will also reveal the wrongdoings of McNeill & White covering up after the last investigation. It appears Vaughan wasn't gallant, he was complicit, paid to leave and keep quiet, rather than being sacked for his part. The Standards Committee are cleverly being left to carry the can and have the choice to continue the cover up or reveal all, so Murphy and McNeill have put their necks on the line here to try and save their own .... nice! The good news is NCC need a 24 hour plumber as leaks are beginning to occur throughout County Hall.

    Report this comment

    Honest John

    Saturday, January 26, 2013

  • if the original investigators report into the email, Kevin Vaughan and Cllr Murphy (he is still a Cllr sitting in the cabinet) had been made public the tax payer wouldn't have had to pay for another investigation. Hope NCC have learnt a lesson here. From what the monitoring officer says it is very likely that the information commissioner may decide it is in the public interest to release the QC report if the committee refuse. I hope someone has already put in a request.

    Report this comment

    Wymondham boy

    Friday, January 25, 2013

  • maryjane, you are damn lucky if you can get a comment through on this or any other remotely-contentious story! Nige's big plan to reduce yoof unemployment in Norwich is give them all jobs censoring web comments, methinks...

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Sunday, January 27, 2013

  • If disclosure of the whole report means that there are "implications" for Murphy's future as a local politician, then that also must mean that disclosure will also have implications for the district who may be unfortunate enough to end up having him as their local politician. They and therefore the whole of Norfolk have a right to decide whether these implications are serious enough to not vote for him in May. He chose to embark on this misadventure and no-one at all has a right to keep the full facts from the public. And are we to believe that there is any chance that the sentencing committee are going to sit there, none of them properly qualified, and disagree with the findings of a QC? Surely they could not be that stupid and arrogant, even the Tory ones?

    Report this comment

    Electra

    Saturday, January 26, 2013

  • Will any Standards Committee members who have not lied, deceived or used their positions for personal advantage, please make themselves known to the public?

    Report this comment

    mrsmurphy

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • Well, I guess we find out on friday this week. Lets hope the right decision is made, there is SO much riding on it.

    Report this comment

    Scooby

    Sunday, January 27, 2013

  • Getting Mr Vaughan to lie and blame the twinhatter King's Lynn Councillors for the press leak isn't wrongdoing? Or the way Councillor Murphy answered questions from the Chief Executive? Pull the other one County Hall !

    Report this comment

    bedoomed

    Friday, January 25, 2013

  • Just as a point of interest, i had a conversation with a member of kings lynn council and it appears the leadership challenge was from Murphy's henchmen and it was a very poor challenge. It appears Murphy was behind it and some of these henchmen are on the NCC standards board. Is it me or is there a big rat somewhere??

    Report this comment

    Sweet cheeks

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • Mr. Murphy wants the meeting to be in public, and Ms O'Neill recommendations to hear it behind closed doors,. when here offices are NCC's doors are open to anyone with a dog, is disingenuous, its should be heard in public. The Standards committee might well ask Mr. Vaughan to explain the pay off's he received.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Friday, January 25, 2013

  • Here's how the public divides on this issue. Those in the know without a vested interest already have no faith in the County Hall standards and ethics regime. Those in the know with a vested interest also secretly have no faith, but they're happy because they know its exactly the way it is to protect their interests. And the rest don't give a stuff, and that's the saddest part. Wide scale ignorance and apathy could quite easily see the offenders re-elected. What a surprise to all of you commenters that would be. Unfortunately a life-time in Norfolk politics means it would be no surprise to me whatsoever, so keep up your good work!

    Report this comment

    Police Commissioner ???

    Friday, January 25, 2013

  • Who needs opposition parties when we have Derrick Murphy and Co shooting down conservatives from the inside of County Hall. I hear that B&Q in Norwich has sold out of Whitewash and door locks. How much has this cover up cost the Norfolk tax-payer? Cllr Derrick Murphy should face his own electorate in West Norfolk after what he has done to his own party.. I bet Derrick is not so confident about winning a seat back in West Norfolk.

    Report this comment

    Jack

    Sunday, January 27, 2013

  • Could it be that Murphy is happy to say that he wants the full report known to the public safe in the knowledge that the one person who can make this happen will not do so because she is worried about what it says about her part in this. Eh Fifi?

    Report this comment

    Electra

    Sunday, January 27, 2013

  • If the members of the NCC Standards Committee do vote to hear these complaints behind closed doors, the public will never again have any faith in the County Hall standards and ethics regime. I hope that all seven of them are aware of their responsibility in this respect.

    Report this comment

    Nemesis

    Friday, January 25, 2013

  • Dont hold your breath some are not sure of the meaning of your words please give them another chance and re frase your question. Does that help you cllr langwade?

    Report this comment

    Sweet cheeks

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • Norfolk County Council should have nothing to fear from openness and transparency.In fact it could be the very thing that makes a start to rebuilding the trust which has been so severely damaged by its failure to listen to the people of Norfolk in general and the people of West Norfolk in particular.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Friday, January 25, 2013

  • It is clear from Victoria McNeil's report that this meeting would be held in public as a matter of course had all those referred to in the investigators full report agreed for it to be published. Mrs McNeil states that “at the time of writing not all individuals have given consent”. Now who might be withholding their consent then Mr Murphy? Given that all involved will be either public employees or paid public servants, that a great deal of public money has been expended on the report and that only the public role and actions of those involved are under scrutiny, then of course this meeting should be held in public – public interest demands it.

    Report this comment

    Alistair Beales

    Friday, January 25, 2013

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

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Norfolk Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 11°C

Five-day forecast

loading...

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT