Norfolk County Council leader Derrick Murphy 'told employee to lie'

Derrick Murphy Norfolk County Council leader Derrick Murphy faces a standards committee hearing

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The leader of Norfolk County Council told a junior employee to lie and gave "misleading and evasive" answers when questioned, an investigation has found.

Derrick Murphy will now face a county council standards hearing over allegations relating to an email sent by a Conservative political assistant.

An investigation found he told Kevin Vaughan to send the email but claim the order came from other councillors.

Mr Murphy has said he was confident of being cleared at the hearing.

Allegations against Mr Murphy, who stood down temporarily as council leader this month, relate to an email sent last April by Mr Vaughan to BBC Radio Norfolk.

The email concerned Nick Daubney, Tory leader of West Norfolk Council.

It was sent two days before Mr Daubney was due to appear on the station to discuss a proposed waste incinerator at Saddlebow, King's Lynn.

The incinerator plan is backed by the county council but opposed by West Norfolk Council.

Start Quote

It's important that the Norfolk public hears the evidence”

End Quote Derrick Murphy Council leader

The email, released after a Freedom of Information request by Mr Daubney, suggested it might be "pertinent information" for the presenter to know that Mr Daubney was facing "a serious leadership challenge" and that his authority had not found an alternative to the incinerator.

Mr Daubney has called on Mr Murphy to stand down permanently, claiming the email was a "serious attempt to undermine my position".

The county council commissioned a report from local government expert Jenni Richards QC, which recommended that its leader face a standards committee.

'Misleading and evasive'

Ms Richards found that Mr Murphy had ordered Mr Vaughan to send the email to the BBC and saw it before it was sent.

Energy from waste incinerator The county council backs the incinerator plans but West Norfolk Council is opposed to the scheme

While deeming the move "ill-advised" she found it did not breach the member's code of conduct.

However, Mr Murphy had later told Mr Vaughan to claim the order to send the email had come from other councillors and not him.

When questioned by the council's chief executive, Mr Murphy gave answers that were "misleading, evasive and lacked candour", the report found.

In doing so, and in telling Mr Vaughan to say something Mr Murphy knew to be untrue, Mr Murphy's behaviour was "unfair and unreasonable" and he failed to treat Mr Vaughan with respect, it concluded.

The council's standards committee will consider the case on 1 February.

Mr Murphy said: "I have asked for it to be a public hearing and for the full investigation report to be made public afterwards.

"It's important that the Norfolk public hears the evidence."

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