Exmouth Journal prints “no comment” photos

Photo shows John Humphreys with children while being investigated for sex offences www.exmouthjournal.co.uk (Extract)

John Humphreys can be seen in the background of this photo showing children at the opening of Blackdown House, EDDC’s new premises – East Devon District Council

One photograph, taken at the selection meeting for the East Devon Conservative candidate for the 2019 election, is on the East Devon Conservative website. It shows John Humphreys as one of the main placard holders. The meeting took place at Exmouth Community College on a day the school was closed. 

At an East Devon District Council cabinet meeting on Wednesday, May 4, leader Cllr Paul Arnott said: “Surely a condition of his bail was that he must not be allowed to enter a school premises, amongst other restrictions regarding access to places connected with young people.”   

He asked the chair of the Conservative group in East Devon, Cllr Bruce De Saram (Exmouth Littleham) to explain the image. 

Cllr De Saram said he had no comments on the matter.

Simon Jupp and Conservative councillors categorically deny any knowledge of Mr Humphreys’ crimes whilst he was in office or when he was given his honorary title of alderman by the council in December that year. The title was removed by the council in 2021. 

Separately, in March 2019, whilst under investigation, John Humphreys was pictured with children from Littletown Academy at the opening of East Devon council’s new offices (see above). 

Asked why Humphreys was allowed to attend these events while being investigated on suspicion of sexually assaulting teenage boys, a spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said: “A long and thorough police investigation resulted in John Humphreys being convicted and jailed for a total of 21 years at Exeter Crown Court in August 2021.  

“The circumstances of this case and Humphreys’ offences were heard in public by the court during the trial which was widely reported at the time.   

“No further suspects were identified within the police investigation.  

“The conviction was only possible thanks to the tenacity, patience and strength of the victims who put their trust in our officers investigating these matters. 

“In 2019, the case was progressing with the police and CPS to bring the case to court. It would not be appropriate to comment on further speculation.” 

Power of protest is a winner

John Curtice writes this analysis in the Times:

In 2015, David Cameron nearly strangled his Liberal Democrat coalition partners to death, capturing no less than 27 of their seats (John Curtice writes). It was a calamity from which the Liberal Democrats have struggled to recover. But now, it seems, they may pose a threat to the Conservatives once more.

The Liberal Democrat performance on Thursday was not quite unprecedented. The party’s vote was at least as high in 2019. However, that ballot took place in particularly propitious circumstances. Theresa May was struggling to get her party to back her Brexit deal, and some voters who opposed Brexit were attracted by the Liberal Democrats’ promise of a second referendum.

However, apart from that occasion, this was the party’s best local election performance since it made the fateful decision in 2010 to enter government with the Tories.

This advance has had no discernible connection with Brexit. It was just as strong in heavily pro-Leave wards as it was in the most pro-Remain. This suggests that the Liberal Democrats are recovering their mantle as the principal party of protest, a development that means it can win in pro-Leave parts of Britain once more — as illustrated by its success in winning control of Somerset.

There was a pattern to the party’s performance, however, and it is one that will especially concern Tory MPs.

First, the Liberal Democrat vote rose most in the more rural parts of the south and Midlands of England outside London — that is, in prime Tory territory. Second, Liberal Democrat support rose particularly strongly (by as much as nine points) in those wards where the party started off in second place to the Conservatives. Although anti-Tory tactical voting by former Labour voters was partly responsible for this pattern, these were also the kinds of places where the Conservative vote fell most heavily. It looks as though the Liberal Democrats feasted especially well on the apparent discontent of many a traditional Conservative voter.

There are 69 parliamentary seats in the south and the Midlands outside London where the Liberal Democrats were second to the Conservatives in 2019. Although in many of these the local Conservative MP has a large majority, they have been served notice that their seat may not be so safe at all.

In 2019, Boris Johnson could win by focusing his fire on Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party. Next time his party may well need a strategy to deal with the Liberal Democrats too.

John Curtice is professor of politics Strathclyde University, and senior research fellow, NatCen Social Research and The UK in a Changing Europe

Correspondent adds a postscript to “Open letter to my MP”

Dear Simon,

It has been drawn to my attention that there are many items that the residents of East Devon would like to add to my list of 5 May 2022 in order for you to act.

The alternative route to the M5 into the peninsula is the A303. The same old bottlenecks have existed for years and years. Can you not pressure urgently, please, for this to be a functioning road fit for 2022?

Mr. Gove has been reported as being disturbed by Natural England’s advice that in many rivers new developments should be “nutrient neutral”. Effectively putting the brakes on any new properties in the area. One of the rivers affected is the River Axe in the Tiverton and Honiton constituency. Will the Clyst and Otter be next? Waiving the nutrient neutral objective would be a cop out.

I hope that you regret your vote to reject the Lord’s amendment that would have placed legal duties on the water companies to reduce sewage discharges in our rivers.

Have you followed up on the EDDC scrutiny committee earlier in the year when they called South West Water to explain? At the meeting it was revealed there were 42,000 raw discharges into Devon’s rivers and coastal areas in 2020. South West Water pleaded poverty and told East Devon residents to “do their bit” to prevent sewage overflows into rivers and seas, despite making huge profits.

In 2020 the river Otter had 90 discharges from Newton Poppleford and 137 from Honiton, on average two to three times a week. This into a river which has seen the return of otters and beavers and empties into a popular bathing bay. All the other rivers in your constituency suffer from the same problems.

Let’s not forget Exmouth’s sewage overflow. At Straight Point the Maer Lane Sewage works discharged, in 2020, 850 hours from 59 episodes. To this now must be added 303 houses at Goodmores Farm. Should Exmouth, like Axminster, be adding any more development? 

As Mr. Parish has resigned it is now your task to fight for the missing £1.6 million the government promised they would help the council with two years ago if LED was kept running through the pandemic. This is council taxpayer’s money we cannot afford to lose.

Finally, I wonder if the fact that Topsham has voted a LABOUR councillor to represent the ward on the Exeter City Council seems a trifling upsetting. I wonder why this has happened. Surely not all “partygate” ? Perhaps it is your government’s punitive target for house building which has resulted in ribbon development effectively joining Topsham with Exeter? Food for thought.