Norfolk councillors have demanded a report into data protection practices at County Hall, following revelations that the authority’s chief executive had secretly taped a conversation with its former leader.

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The existence of the recording made by chief executive David White came to light earlier this month at a standards committee hearing into alleged code of conduct breaches by ex-leader Derrick Murphy.

Mr White is already due to take voluntary redundancy in April and interim council leader Bill Borrett has confirmed that no further action will be taken against him.

But the episode has prompted “serious concerns” about the security of private information between councillors and staff.

Labour group leader George Nobbs led the calls during yesterday’s meeting of the cabinet scrutiny committee, which he chairs.

The committee agreed that a report should be produced to look at “the general issue of data protection within Norfolk County Council, particularly the processes, principles, practices, guidance and enforcement”.

Further to a specific question raised by councillor Richard Bearman, the scrutiny committee will also seek: “Any previous instances of people having their telephone calls recorded without their knowledge.”

Mr Nobbs said: “Without wishing for a second to revisit any business of the standards committee, I have some concerns which I know are shared by other councillors, about the fact that a conversation could be recorded without one party’s knowledge – let alone their consent.

“I am extremely concerned by this and I feel very differently about speaking to officers now than I did a fortnight ago.

“We also employ 7,000 people and I am concerned about whether staff feel that they are being recorded for anything other than training purposes.

“This has nothing to do with the standards hearing, it is a matter of principle. But were it not for recent events we would not have known this had happened.”

Mr Bearman said: “With regards to recording of phone conversations, we also need to look at how many instances there have been over the last five years, to avoid over-reacting to a very rare occurrence.”

The standards hearing on February 1 found Mr Murphy had breached the county council’s code of conduct when he asked his political assistant to claim it had not been the former leader’s idea to send a controversial email to the BBC.

Mr Murphy was cleared of six other alleged breaches, but, having already stepped down as council leader and chairman and leader of the Conservative group, he has since decided not to stand at all in May’s elections.

But a major revelation was that Mr White had secretly recorded a conversation he had with Mr Murphy about the email on April 27 last year, and had part of it transcribed, because he felt it was in the interests of the authority.

17 comments

  • What part of Ms Richards QC's deliberations on this subject did George Nobbs not understand? I think that this is all about posturing. Perhaps he should inform us about the whispered conversation he had with Murphy before the hearing and shown at the Mustard video. Was he being given his lines by his benefactor-how about sit near me and keep nodding?

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    maryjane

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013

  • This is exactly why there needs to be a good clear out at County Hall, NOT because White recorded the telephone conversation with Murphy, but because he felt he had reason to do so. The implication is that NCC were well aware of Murphy's character, well aware that he was evasive and lacked candour, and yet they turned a blind eye to it all, both before this event and again after it last April. It seems those who have the most to fear about having been recorded are those who have the most reason to have been recorded. "Borrett has confirmed that no further action will be taken" against White. I'm sure I read here somewhere that someone had already lodged a Corporate Complaint against White, so Borrett is admitting the outcome of that is pre-determined? Anyone who votes for a new Leader from the Cabinet will be voting to continue in this current regime of secrecy, cover ups, power and glory. So look out for who your CC votes for or more importantly if they don't bother turning up for the vote because they do not want it made public who they vote for, and they should be the first to go in May.

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    Honest John

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

  • Why should Councillors expect their utterings to be entirely secret. They should not be saying anything that cannot be repeated to an appropriate audience (ie a Standards Hearing).

    Report this comment

    norfolkngood

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013

  • Why is Borat (Borrett) so keen to defend and protect David White? Nick Conrad's interview with Fifi McNeil broadcast today was interesting, notice how she refused to answer any questions about her paymaster. It was a performance that would have made RADA proud! So the Head of Law has no legal view on the Chief Executive secretly recording telephone conversations with the Leader of NCC. The real moment of truth came when she couldn't answer in whose interests it had been to hold it in private. The only two names not mentioned were David White and Bill Borrett. Kevin Vaughan claimed at the hearing that he told the QC all about Borat's role many months ago when she interviewed him but none of it was included in the full report that has since been made public. When is the Third Man ever going to explain his role or face the consequences like his master Murphy did!

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    pig in trough

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013

  • peter J., its already happening, because those in power are worried and are already holding you tel. records for six years, whether you like it or not. As for Nick Conrad's tame performance calling those who upheld scrutiny '"a tactical gang involved in the anti-incinerator campaign whipping up a storm", it was outrageous as these people did not know each other and done the work of councillors and the BBC who failed to hold councillors to account. And did Nick Conrad question Ms. O Neill on her due diligence and the intruder at County Hall who showed her office to be 'open all hours' with vitally important documents littering the desks for all to see? How much would it have cost Norfolk taxpayers if any of these documents would have become public knowledge, tenders, procurements and contacts? A dismal performance in my view, biased and full of personal opinions that should not have come into it. could do better.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

  • Most of our messages here are safe for posterity and the recording everyone gets hot under the collar for has had nothing to do with NCC practises or us being listened to in every conversation we have with councils, the police or other private agencies and companies. david White's recording was done for 'his personal reasons', to quote him and for Mr. Nobbs to be worried he must obviously have something to hide.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013

  • Why is it that Borat seems to be protecting White. Borat has been ousted as the third man in the Kevin-gate affair, is it getting to him and dose he need protection?. Amazingly, rumour is that Borat wants to keep White on after start of April, even after the outing of the secret recording of telephone conversation which White conveniently erased before anyone could here it. On this point, what would be the implications had the secretary who's phone White used simply walked out of County Hall without erasing the recording, it was her phone to which county would have no control over the possible use of the recorded material. This is the man Borat wishes to support, very poor judgement from a hopeful future leader.

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    Norfolcia

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

  • Couldn't agree more Norfolcia but don't forget that Borat (Borrett) is only the front man for wheeler dealer 'iffy cliffy' Cliff Jordan. Word on the street is Jordan is worried that Borat will lose his seat and has been aiding his former protegee, William Nunn to find a seat in South Norfolk (Nunn having been deselected by his association). Borat needs to watch out - even his own allies are plotting against him.

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    pig in trough

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

  • Get real people. Taping of conversations is common ('for training purposes'...) and frankly could be a good thing. The 'error' here was understood by the man who committed it - he didn't tell Murphy. Suggest send bill for this investigation to man who caused it - Derek Murphy? Oh and suggest MORE taping not less.They do it in the White House - so why not here? Do NOT waste our MONEY and YOUR time.

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    Richard Woods

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013

  • Yes that's right everyone... let's tape all conversation... of everyone! For too long has Britain struggled with being a liberal democratic country - let's become communist and monitor what everyone says!

    Report this comment

    Peter J

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

  • The headline to this article is "Secret taping prompts data protection probe at Norfolk County Council" quite rightly it should be of concern to County Councillors and Councillors everywhere, what Mr White did has no doubt seriously damaged the relationship between the Executive and Members who will be on their guard, with freedom of information requests being made and now illicit recordings the role of a councillor must be getting very precarious indeed. Although being found to have broken the code of conduct and having quite rightly stood down one could assume that Mr Murphy would have good reason to instigate action against the Council and Chief Executive for a breach of the Data protection code, not forgetting it was Mr White who broke the code he was responsible for overseeing . At the very least Mr White should have been put on gardening leave, what example dose it give to council staff to see a serious breach of trust being unchallenged, it is not good enough to keep him in place until he officially leaves in April.

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    Norfolcia

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • Maybe its time for an amnesty, so White can reveal what he has got on Borat, the Gaffer, and the rest of them.

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    Police Commissioner ???

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013

  • yey go the revolution!!!!!

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    Fred

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

  • Borat (Borrett) can't run from his actions for much longer but the Conservative Group will be judged harshly by the voters if they crown him as their leader at the end of next week. He conspired with Murphy in the Kevingate affair as the 'Third Man' through his desire to crush those opposed to the incinerator - a car crash of a project that he has mismanaged for 18 months or more! There are whispers that Borat has, in a vein attempt to make himself appear more in touch and empathetic to the common man and woman of Norfolk, offered Cllr. Shelagh Gurney (Hellesdon) the Deputy Leadership if he becomes Leader. This is more far fetched than a work of fiction! Is this the same man who wasted taxpayers money driving around his estate in a 4X4 chasing flytippers (as the Cabinet Member for Waste) or whose favourite pastime is as Master of the Hunt? Really representative of the electorate then?

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    pig in trough

    Friday, February 15, 2013

  • Bill Borrett in my mind is just as bad as Derrick Murphy in that he agreed that it was right to ignore 65.516 people. How can a man that has the gall to ignore people in Norfolk who are mostly conservative voters and assume that they will still vote for him. Look what happened to Murphy. Murphy's behaviour was just terrible. Borrett you are just as bad. We are not all daft, Bill Borrett as leader you must be having a laugh. To become leader takes a long time you have to gain respect in everything you do. Bill Borrett has lost our respect, so Borrett take your hat back we don't want you. You got involved in the plot to undermine Nick Daubney so you are damaged goods. We could never trust you as you were supposed to be unbiased and impartial regarding waste incinerator. Jenni Richards report proves that you and Derrick Murphy had a vested interest in shoving this waste incineratror on people in West Norfolk. Now you to wtll pay the price for that betrayal.

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    Jack

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

  • You see how quickly these people act when it comes to covering their backsides? Can't have whistleblowing, need to run a tight ship. I believe the investigation should also consider the "freedom of access" incident now playing at a Youtube near you, which is altogether more serious in that it exposed the council's lax attitude to protecting confidential records that the public might reasonably expect to be kept securely under lock and key.

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    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Wednesday, February 13, 2013

  • The headline to this article is "Secret taping prompts data protection probe at Norfolk County Council" quite rightly it should be of concern to County Councillors and Councillors everywhere, what Mr White did has no doubt seriously damaged the relationship between the Executive and Members who will be on their guard, with freedom of information requests being made and now illicit recordings the role of a councillor must be getting very precarious indeed. Although being found to have broken the code of conduct and having quite rightly stood down one could assume that Mr Murphy would have good reason to instigate action against the Council and Chief Executive for a breach of the Data protection code, not forgetting it was Mr White who broke the code he was responsible for overseeing . At the very least Mr White should have been put on gardening leave, what example dose it give to council staff to see a serious breach of trust being unchallenged, it is not good enough to keep him in place until he officially leaves in April.

    Report this comment

    Norfolcia

    Friday, February 15, 2013

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

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