Call for chief executive to go over secret recording

The chief executive of Norfolk County Council has been called on to leave immediately after he admitted recording conversations with a former leader.

David White revealed the details at a standards hearing which found that Tory leader Derrick Murphy had brought his office into disrepute.

Labour group leader George Nobbs called for Mr White to step down.

But Lib Dem leader Mike Brindle said Mr White, due to retire in April, should stay until a successor is appointed.

Bill Borrett, acting leader of Norfolk County Council, said in a statement: "We heard during the standards committee hearing from the chief executive that when he recorded his telephone conversation with the former leader, he acted not in his own interest, but in the interest of the authority and its public reputation.

"After much careful consideration we do not believe that action concerning the chief executive is necessary."

Mr White said he did not wish to add to the statement.

The standards hearing, held on Friday, was investigating the sending of an email which allegedly disparaged Nick Daubney, the Tory leader of West Norfolk Council.

Leader stepped down

It heard that Mr Murphy had told council officer Kevin Vaughan to send the email. Mr Vaughan said he was asked to blame other councillors for the communication.

Following the hearing, Mr Murphy said it would be "incompatible" for him to be leader while he pursued "issues" with the county council.

Mr Nobbs told the BBC: "Once that element of trust has gone it is impossible to continue discharging one's duty as a chief executive.

"Quite frankly I am horrified and appalled any conversation could be secretly recorded."

But leader of the Greens, Richard Bearman, said the chief executive should not be forced out because the council needed stability.

"[Mr White] has been chief executive for 19 years... alongside eight leaders of the council - and Derrick is the only leader, in fact only politician, he has recorded - giving him experience of working with them," he said.

Mr Brindle said: "We have just lost our political leader and there is no deputy to David White and he is a very experienced man. We are in the process of appointing a successor to David White, we need someone steering the ship at the moment."

Mr White, who is paid £205,322 a year and joined the council in October 2006, announced last year he was to leave the council in April 2013.

He told the hearing Mr Murphy had been "evasive" in his dealings with him.

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