Spotlight shone on secret recording at Norfolk County Council

Derrick Murphy at the standards committee hearing at County Hall.

Derrick Murphy at the standards committee hearing at County Hall. - Credit: Simon Finlay

The revelation that Norfolk County Council's chief executive secretly recorded the leader of the authority has sparked a call for anyone following suit at County Hall to face disciplinary proceedings for gross misconduct.

The proposal was made at a meeting of the council's cabinet scrutiny yesterday, which was the first opportunity for councillors to debate the data protection issue since it emerged former leader Derrick Murphy had been recorded, without his knowledge, by chief executive David White.

The scrutiny committee skirted around the specifics of that issue, which came to light at a standards hearing into Mr Murphy's conduct last month.

No disciplinary proceedings have been brought against Mr White, who will leave the authority next month, but there was quite an implication in a motion tabled by Conservative county councillor Tony Adams.

Mr Adams said: 'The most important thing here is confidence.

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'Staff have to have confidence when they talk to senior officers that their conversations are not being recorded without their knowledge. Equally senior staff need to know they are not being recorded, as do members.

'We should have been and should be quite clear that if you bring in equipment to record somebody without their knowledge that is gross misconduct.'

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But, after hearing from officers that new policies were being put in place to make explicitly clear that recording without somebody's knowledge in any way could lead to disciplinary action, they drew back from the motion. They instead agreed to express their concerns over such recordings to the joint consultative negotiating committee, which will help thrash out future policies.

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