Conservative Party should look into Norfolk County Council email saga at national level, says West Norfolk Council leader

The actions of the leader of Norfolk County Council should be investigated by the Conservative Party at a national level, according to a fellow council leader who was the subject of a controversial email.

And a local Conservative group has confirmed that it too, intends to discuss the conduct of County Hall leader Derrick Murphy at a meeting next week, following the conclusion of an investigation into his role in the sending of an email which appeared to undermine a fellow Conservative.

Nick Daubney, leader of West Norfolk Council, was the subject of that email, which was sent to BBC Radio Norfolk by Mr Murphy's political assistant Kevin Vaughan in April.

It was sent two days before Mr Daubney was due to appear on Nick Conrad's show to discuss the King's Lynn incinerator, which has 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.

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When the email came to light it sparked an independent investigation at County Hall, which this week concluded that Mr Vaughan had acted on the wishes of leader Mr Murphy.

Mr Murphy's admission that he asked Mr Vaughan to contact the broadcaster means Mr Vaughan has kept his job, but Mr Daubney remains unhappy, claiming that it was a deliberate attempt to undermine him.

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He said last night: 'I am baffled by what happened and I am asking the party at a national level to investigate what has happened. I was completely flummoxed by the county council investigation.'

The North West Norfolk Conservative Association is also planning to discuss the situation at a meeting next week, with chairman George Eve and president James Morgan both confirming they have seen a copy of the report compiled by independent investigator John Ainslow.

The EDP has sought a copy of the report from the county council, but Anne Gibson, head of human resources and organisational development, said: 'We will not release a copy of the report because it relates to an internal employment matter and we have a duty to have regard to the legitimate interests of the staff member concerned.

'However, aware of the public interest in this matter, we have released the report's conclusion, and the name of the wholly independent investigator.'

Mr Murphy, who has insisted the email was not an attempt to undermine Mr Daubney, but to encourage Mr Conrad to quiz him about information already in the public domain, has said he should have called the broadcaster himself, rather than asking his publicly paid political assistant to tip them off.

On the news that Mr Daubney believes this party should look into the circumstances at a national level and that the North West Norfolk group is to discuss the issue, Mr Murphy said: 'I have no problem whatsoever with anyone at the Conservative party looking into it.

'As far as Mr Daubney is concerned he is entirely within his rights to do anything he wants. That's up to him as far as I am concerned.'

The county councillor for Freebridge Lynn division, who has been selected to stand for the South Norfolk division of Forehoe in next year's county council elections, added he is no longer a member of the North West Norfolk Conservatives, with his membership having lapsed as of Friday, July 13.

He is now a member of the South West Norfolk Conservatives, but said of the North West Conservatives: 'It's up to them to do whatever they want to do. That's their prerogative.'

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