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Former leader censured in incinerator row

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Norfolk CC’s former leader has been censured by the authority’s standards committee following an investigation into a row over the building of an incinerator.

Derrick Murphy (Con) has announced he will not seek reelection as leader after standing down temporarily last month and will also not stand as a councillor in the May elections as a result of the standards verdict.

Fellow councillors concluded Cllr Murphy had conducted himself in “a manner which could reasonably be regarded as bringing your office or authority into disrepute” after he asked his political assistant to email a local journalist ahead of an interview with a political opponent.

The standards committee imposed three sanctions: a letter of censure; a report of the breach to full council; and ordered Cllr Murphy to undergo training in ethics and standards.

Their decision followed an investigation into events surrounding a long-running row about planning permission for an incinerator in Norfolk which Cllr Murphy strongly supported; the district council involved in the planning process, Kings Lynn & West Norfolk BC, oppose the development.

The investigation was sparked following complaints about an email sent by Norfolk Conservative group political assistant Kevin Vaughan to a local journalist who was due to interview Kings Lynn & West Norfolk leader Nick Daubney (Con).

In the email Mr Vaughan advised the journalist that Cllr Daubney, who opposes the building of the incinerator, was facing a “a serious leadership challenge” and that his authority had failed to procure alternative technology to the plant.

An investigation into the email by county hall established that Mr Vaughan had been acting on the wishes of Cllr Murphy, who supports the building of the incinerator.

Cllr Murphy has announced he will not stand in the May elections. Explaining his decision to the Eastern Daily Press he said: “We made the decision ages ago but have announced it today. We felt that people would be taking pot shots at us and what I want is for the Conservatives to get as many seats as possible in the elections.

“If Janet and I got elected and the Conservatives did not get a majority that would not be satisfactory. But if we stand down, people concentrate on the policies and the Conservatives win then I will be happy.”

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