December 10 2013 Latest news:
Monday, September 16, 2013
The former leader of Norfolk County Council has called for councillors that spoke out in support of the chief executive who secretly recorded a conversation with him to resign.
Derrick Murphy lodged a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after it emerged he had been recorded by council boss David White, without his permission.
The office said it was “likely” the council had breached the Data Protection Act, because Mr White had not told Mr Murphy he was recording the conversation.
The revelation over the secret recording come during an eight-hour meeting of the council’s standards committee in January, where Mr Murphy was accused of seven code of conduct breaches.
He was cleared of all but one – that he breached the code of conduct by asking his political assistant to claim it had not been Mr Murphy’s idea to send an email to the BBC in April last year.
But it was Mr White’s admission that he secretly recorded a conversation with the then leader during his own interviews over that email which was the major shock at the hearing – and which led to Mr Murphy reporting the issue.
Following the ICO verdict, Conservative Mr Murphy said: “I am very pleased with this finding which states clearly that the former chief executive acted without approval of the council’s Data Protection Office who at the time was Mike Jackson.
“The ICO also rejected the council’s claim that the recording did not contain personal information.
“I also believe that the ICO’s finding makes the position of those councillors who publicly supported Mr White’s action now untenable and I feel they have no other option but to do the right thing and resign.
“I will be pursuing this matter further with vigour.”
After the standards hearing, Bill Borrett, then the acting leader of the then-Conservative controlled council, said there would be no disciplinary action against Mr White.
Following the hearing, John Fuller, Conservative leader of South Norfolk Council, said Mr White had “laid down his career” to try to do what was right. He did not want to comment on Mr Murphy’s resignations call.
Mr White, who said at the standards hearing he had sought legal advice before making the secret recording, left the authority at the end of April.
The council has said it will consider the findings of the Information Commissioner’s Office and take any steps to prevent the situation from happening again.
The ICO had acknowledged that the likely breach at County Hall appeared to have been a “one-off incident” and that it would not seek regulatory action. But it has asked the council to take steps to prevent a repeat.