Norfolk County Council leader makes public apology to rival for ‘inciting hate’ accusation

Cliff Jordan, leader of the Norfolk County Council, speaks at the ceremony to mark the imminent open

Cliff Jordan, leader of the Norfolk County Council, speaks at the ceremony to mark the imminent opening of the full Broadland Northway (NDR). Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

The leader of Norfolk County Council has made a public apology for comments he aimed towards his leading political opponent.

Steve Morphew, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Steve Morphew, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

At a full council meeting yesterday, Cliff Jordan made the apology to Labour group leader Steve Morphew, after accusing him of inciting hate.

In it he said: 'At the press meeting after the special full council on January 8, I stated that councillor Morphew incited hate.

'I acknowledged that it was inappropriate and retract that statement.

'I have already apologised and given my assurance that I will not repeat it. I agreed to make this statement in public as the original accusation was made in public.'

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However, moments after the meeting, Mr Jordan downplayed his remarks as 'in the heat of the moment', pointing the finger at this newspaper for bringing them on.

He said: 'At the time it was a heated debate and on reflection it wasn't the right thing to say.

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'However, the comments were made in the heat of debate and I had faced nine days of vitriolic attacks and pressure from the Eastern Daily Press.'

Following the meeting, Mr Morphew said the apology was long overdue.

He said: 'It is about time. I am still appalled he made the remarks to begin with and it was not the kind of behaviour I would expect from a council leader under any circumstances.

'Personally, I am always happy to be criticised, but to stoop to that level is not the standard that the people of Norfolk expect from their council leader.'

The comments came following a controversial decision by councillors to increase basic allowances from £9,401 to £10,500.

At an extraordinary meeting in January, councillors voted 36 to 28 in favour of sticking by this decision, after Labour and Liberal Democrat members motioned to reverse the decision.

Mr Jordan had previously indicated he would donate any additional expenses he claims to charity.

At the meeting, Terry Jermy, Labour councillor for Thetford West, asked Mr Jordan if he could reveal which charities had benefitted so far, to which he said: 'No.'

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