Repercussions of the Brown affair at last night’s Council meeting

There were several…
For starters….

Devon and Cornwall Police & Crime Commissioner(PCC),Tony Hogg, spent nearly an hour and a half addressing last night’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee(OSC). He answered a barrage of councillors’ pre-submitted questions, some directly or indirectly linked to the police investigation into an influential EDDC ex-councillor. (The case was closed on 12/11/14, the day before yesterday ).

For example (N.B. Below is a summary only.Recording of the meeting, available on EDDC website soon):

1.Q. Is a PCC informed of progress of ongoing police investigations?
Ans. Only ones that promote a risk to the public or to the reputation of the police/ only high-profile ones

2. Q. Are there safeguards to monitor police relations with partner organisations?
Ans. “I have every confidence” that D&C police are impartial. A joint Audit Committee keeps checks, and a complaints process and appeal system exists.

3. Q. Is declaring membership of the Freemasons a requirement for all staff?
Ans. Membership of this large, charitable organisation “has no bearing on police membership”. No obligation to declare, as it is not a prohibited organisation.

4. Q. As Transparency International warns that bribery in local government, and electoral corruption, are both increasing, what measures should be taken?
Ans. a) Electoral corruption..follow Electoral Commission guidance. b) Bribery…local governments have their own defence against fraud.

5. Q. Why had the Graham Brown Investigation been so lengthy?
Ans. (from the PCC’s colleague, Chief Superintendent Keith Perkin) There were delays in the initial part of the investigation, which “didn’t start for a number of months”. That was regretted, he said. The case was “a complex one” , with “in excess of 40 individuals” being seen. It was “undertaken by specialist investigators”, who had not found enough to reach “the threshold of evidence” for criminal charges to be made.

Three supplementary questions were asked. Two were from Cllr Claire Wright (Independent), who picked up Mr Williams’ phrase (in his e-mail to councillors, 12.11.2014), that the Brown investigation “hasn’t identified (anything) worth pursuing”. She asked if there would be a report and recommendations from the police to EDDC, and whether that would be made public. “I’ll get back to you.”, Chief Superintendent Perkin replied. He gave the same reply to her second question about whether or not Devon and Cornwall are satisfied that they have interviewed everyone.
Cllr Ben Ingham (Independent) was concerned that the initial delay had contributed to the findings, and had perhaps influenced the outcome of the inquiry. The Chief Inspector assured him that “No evidence was lost as a result of the initial delay”.

Much more to come on last night’s OSC…