John Humphreys investigation continues

More on the timeline of who knew what about John Humphreys.

The point that Owl made in Monday’s post was that information has emerged piecemeal, only when someone has had the courage not just to ask questions, but to press them home.

What prompted this latest revelation was Cllr Jess Bailey formally asking, in June, when concerns were first raised with Devon County Council about John Humphreys and what action had been taken to keep children safe.

In a written response, to her, Cllr Leadbetter (Cabinet member for Children’s Services and Schools) said: “I can confirm that the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) received a referral via the NSPCC in 2014. As part of the LADO process, our officers discussed the case with the police. The police were already aware of the individual and the allegations that had been made, and advised us that there was not enough evidence to investigate further, and it was agreed that no further action would be taken.

We also need to bear in mind that what the Conservative Party “knew” might be less than what its individual members knew. Until we have a better understanding of the timeline of events it is difficult to see what needs to be done to reduce the chance of this happening again.

Devon County Council is now conducting its own investigation but the Devon and Cornwall Police Force is not. Tomorrow, EDDC is to consider two options.

It is over a year since John Humphreys was jailed for 21 years

Georgia Cornish. www.exmouthjournal.co.uk

The Conservative Party claims it was not informed about a paedophile councillor among its ranks, despite Devon County Council and East Devon District Council officers being aware of allegations for many years.

John Humphreys was an East Devon councillor for around 20 years, and at one point also mayor of Exmouth. In 2021 he was charged with 10 accounts of serious sexual offences against two teenagers in the 1990s and 2000s, and is now serving 21 years in prison.

A motion to be put this week to East Devon District Council (EDDC), which was run during that time by the Conservatives, but is now under the control of the East Devon Alliance party, asks the council to commission an investigation into how Humphreys was able to continue as a councillor and a school governor, despite his arrest in 2016.

On Wednesday 7 September, EDDC received a reply from the Conservative Party following a request to East Devon MP Simon Jupp to investigate. Mr Jupp says he is not involved in selecting prospective councillors and passed the letter to the chair of the local party for a response.

In that letter, Cllr Bruce De Saram writes: “Devon County Council has admitted that they were notified of concerns by the NSPCC dating back as far as 2014 and of [John Humphreys’] arrest in 2016 and failed to follow the correct process…..EDDC were informed of the case by Devon County Council in March 2016 through the LADO process.”

LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer) is a role in the children’s services department of the county council role which coordinates a response to concerns about risks to children. They convened meetings to discuss Cllr Humphreys case in 2016.

Mr De Saram’s letter to EDDC continues: “The Conservative Party was not invited to join these LADO meetings. The Conservative Party was not informed by the LADO of the case.

“The LADO process provides a vital opportunity for information to be shared in a confidential environment between all relevant organisations in circumstances such as this.

“It is concerning that the Conservative Party was not informed or invited to attend as we clearly had a role in this, which the current council is undertaking to hold us accountable for.

“Had we been involved in this process and made aware of the details we would have been able to take the appropriate steps. This involvement would have ultimately prevented from him becoming a Conservative candidate and undertaking activities on behalf of the Conservative Party as detailed in your letter.”

In May, East Devon’s chief executive Mark Williams confirmed in a memo to councillors that one of its officers attended two LADO meetings called by Devon County Council in 2016, the year Cllr Humphreys was arrested on suspicion of assaulting one boy. However, he was not charged or the information about his arrest made public. He had also been questioned for similar offences in 2005 but no charges were brought.

In Mr Williams’ email in May this year, prompted by an enquiry by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, he told councillors of a further LADO meeting planned for November 2016 “prior to any decision by the police to charge Mr Humphreys. While a further LADO meeting was organised for January 2017, this was postponed a number of times, and then cancelled.”

Mr Williams describes how the East Devon council officer then had no further communication with the county council or the police after November 2016. “The officer was unaware that Mr Humphreys had been charged [at a much later date] or that he was later to face trial,” Mr Williams wrote.

“He only became aware of the fact that Mr Humphreys had been charged and stood trial after the conviction in 2021.

“It is important to know that LADO meetings are held in the strictest confidence. Furthermore, the police also give clear instruction on what can or can’t be said so as to avoid potentially jeopardising any information.”

East Devon District Council is holding an extraordinary consultative meeting on Wednesday [28 September], at which the report concerning Mr Humphreys will be reviewed. The council will be asked to decide whether they believe an independent investigation is necessary.

Councillor Jessica Bailey has put forward a proposal for an independent investigation which is estimated to take eight to 12 weeks if commissioned.

2 thoughts on “John Humphreys investigation continues

  1. Why is the Conservative Party response to this investigation starting to feel like the Republic response to the investigation into the US Insurrection attack on the Capitol, where the incumbent at the time says that it is blown out of proportion and historic and “nothing to see here” but where a horror story of facilitation and actual involvement comes out in dribs and drabs as a proper investigation starts to happen?

    What is needed here is a no-holds-barred in-depth investigation of who knew what and when, as only then will the public be reassured that the Conservative Party and / or its members were not facilitating or abetting John Humphreys in his paedophilia?

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  2. According to the pitifully few newspaper reports of the first week of the trial, for which we owe gratitude to Becca Gliddon of East Devon News who alone thought the trial worth reporting, the investigative failures in 1991 were not only down to the police. The complaints at the time were of an unnamed man and retracted while in a secure unit. Presumably a local authority facility. At the 2021 trial this victim’s evidence made clear that he knew Humphreys’ home, work van and telephone number, which he got from the van. Did this victim attempt to give this information to the authorities at that time or did police and or social services personnel create such an oppressive environment that the victim felt unable to offer it? Why are we having to pussyfoot around the events of 2016 when really we should be demanding full transparency from the police and county council regarding the events of 1991, 2004-7 (with aspects bringing critical comment from the judge to the trial jury), 2012-14 (including weaselly confirmation from a senior officer to Cllr Arnott), and subsequent to the verdict, when someone of sufficient rank decided these convictions were sufficient and the victims should be grateful and move on. with no censure or apology for past failures? Also why do we still not know the dates relating to the complaints from additional alleged victims? Plus how much access did Humphreys have to Devon’s only state boarding school facility between 1992 and 2018, when it ceased to accept boarders?

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