What are the Tories hiding over the John Humphreys affair?

EDDC headquarters at Blackdown House, Honiton

East Devon District Council's Honiton HQ - Credit: Archant

Eileen Wragg, Exmouth district councillor, writes for the Journal.

Eileen Wragg, Liberal Democrat candidate for Exmouth Town. Picture: Eileen Wragg

Eileen Wragg, Liberal Democrat candidate for Exmouth Town. Picture: Eileen Wragg - Credit: Eileen Wragg

During the last year there have  been serious concerns arising from the conviction and sentencing of former Exmouth Mayor and EDDC Councillor John Humphreys for sexual assaults on two young boys.

Among the concerns was the fact he was allowed to continue holding his position as an Exmouth Town and East Devon District Councillor, despite having been arrested in 2015, even campaigning in the 2019 General Election, being photographed at Exmouth Community College with one of the parliamentary candidates and others. 

Disturbingly, following a question from Devon County Councillor Jess Bailey at a full county council meeting recently, it was revealed the National Society for the Protection of Children (NSPCC) had informed DCC of the investigation in 2014, yet he was allowed to stay in office, continue to stand for election, and unbelievably was nominated to be an EDDC Honorary Alderman in December 2019. 

A statement has recently been made by DCC admitting that action should have been taken.

I was made aware that Humphreys was being investigated for these crimes about five years ago, but with no evidence, I was unable to disclose that information.

If I, as a member of the opposition (at the time) at EDDC, was aware, it seems inconceivable that members of the Conservative Party had not been informed.

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Last week’s full council meeting at EDDC was presented with a Notice of Motion calling on MP Simon Jupp, who had, according to a Conservative Councillor, stayed in a property owned by Humphreys for around two months in 2019, to ask for the questions asked to be investigated by the Conservative Party and to give reassurance to the council.

Incredibly, the Conservative councillors abstained from the requested recorded vote, and from voting on the Notice of Motion.

Several, in fact, left the meeting before the vote was taken.

It has been reported that a meeting had been called at Blackdown House prior to the meeting, and that they had been whipped into abstaining from the vote.

This raises grave concerns that there was something that they didn’t want known.

My view, expressed during the meeting, was that political purposes were put ahead of the safeguarding of children.

Devon County Council should be hanging it’s head in shame along with those who refused to vote last week.

Humphreys is serving a 21-year sentence, one of his victims is serving a life sentence.

A recording of last week’s council meeting can be viewed via EDDC’s website.