Tim makes a considered comment on EDDC’s role in the DCC Humphreys review

Tim’s comment upgraded to full post:

The impression I get from this report, and what I have seen and heard over the last few years, is that what matters to DCC and the former EDDC, was avoiding blame for their part in this failure. Without a shadow of doubt, some previous institutions, those councils and Devon and Cornwall Police, have failed the victims of Humphreys.

Contrary to the expectations of many who know the details, Devon and Cornwall Police have never investigated their appallingly unprofessional early handling of this case, nor have they had any other force investigate them for it. They suggest they will investigate if a complaint is made, but I’m pretty sure they will only accept a complaint from the victims, people who now want to get on with their lives and even then, it would no doubt be more heavily redacted than DCC’s report.

Owl has reviewed DCC’s report and I’ll add nothing further

In respect of EDDC, and it must be emphasised that we are talking about a past Tory controlled council and some existing officers, I find the explanations so far offered as less than satisfactory.

I want to focus on the explanation that an EDDC officer attended the DCC LADO meeting and accepted the request that those present had to treat the police information given about Humphreys in absolute confidence. It is suggested that the council officer concerned, and people do know who it was, accepted that advice and never even mentioned it to his boss the CEO – until the news became public.

Rightly or wrongly I believe that the senior officer concerned, whom I believe was male, had a primary duty to consider how the information given might affect his duty to EDDC and its public, and of course, to check that the reasons for secrecy were appropriate in all the circumstances.

Many of us know that Masonic influence has been a matter of concern in local councils and in Devon and Cornwall police. In 2017 Devon Live named 26 Devon councillors who were members of Masonic Lodges. I have previously FOI’d Devon and Cornwall police about police staff and membership of Lodges but they advised that they did not require such membership to be recorded. Make no mistake though, there will be such members – but we don’t know whom.

Humphreys was a Mason, we do not know if the police officer demanding secrecy was or was not. I have worked with Masonic police officers-most by far are decent honest folk – but I also know that is not always the case and have seen one rightly jailed for ‘helping a brother out’.

That EDDC officer would, or should have been aware of potential masonic conflict and should have enquired why the officer wanted such secrecy – I’m told it was an unusual request. He should have been aware of the need to confirm that secrecy was a legitimate request. It would appear he did not as there seems to be no such record. That EDDC officer’s primary duty is to his employer and the people the council serve. It seems totally unprofessional not to have explored the reason for the request for secrecy further. He should have anticipated that silence would potentially involve putting others at risk.

Much has been said from one quarter about the obligation on that officer to respect and abide by the police officer’s request, supported by various memos etc, to maintain absolute secrecy about Humphreys. Well frankly that is absolute nonsense.

The law and relative guidance provides for how such confidential should be treated. Firstly it acknowledges that there will be times when confidential information can properly be passed to another party . Secondly, it uses the phrase ‘need to know basis’. Certain senior officers of councils may ‘need to know’ about all sorts of matters, indeed there will likely be quite a few occasions in which they have already been passed information on a ‘need to know’ basis because they may have a role to play in predicted events and need to be prepared. It needs to be noted that the ‘need to know’ exception means that those who have a valid reason to know is restricted, it isn’t to broadcast throughout the organisation or be made public. That EDDC officer should have told his boss the CEO for he has oversight of what is going on and could, if he felt appropriate, have kept Humphreys out of certain areas to protect the East Devon residents and the council’s reputation.

I am disappointed that the ‘need to know’ exception was never brought to the attention of today’s council members. It is a common practice in most areas that you can think of from say newsrooms protecting a story from rivals, to chancellors of the exchequer with pre-budget details, to Council CEOs in regard to emergency planning measures . I’m willing to bet that our CEO has quite a few ‘need to know ‘ matters that he shares with the few who have reason to know.

In my old job I dealt with classified confidential information on a daily basis in many of the roles I held. I might have been the officer requesting confidentiality or at the end of the chain the person expected to produce resources when certain things happened. I might be the only person in the know in my department, or I might deem it appropriate to share with some junior colleagues.

The point is that that the ‘need to know’ exception to confidentiality is common practice in all organisations and senior staff would, I hope, have understood this and when it should be applied. It should have been applied to Humphreys being recognised as a suspected paedophile in an influential position.

One thought on “Tim makes a considered comment on EDDC’s role in the DCC Humphreys review

  1. Unfortunately the fact that “an EDDC officer attended the DCC LADO meeting and accepted the request that those present had to treat the police information given about Humphreys in absolute confidence” appears to be yet another example of a secretive, cosy relationship between EDDC officers and D&C Police.

    For example, we still have no idea how the CEO Mark Williams came into details of a confidential formal statement made by Claire Wright to D&C Police, that he then used to bully her first in a widely distributed email which quickly became public and then in a public council meeting that I attended.

    And we still don’t know why there is an apparent modus operandi of D&C Police to ignore (or undertake only a lip-service investigation) of formal allegations of criminal behaviour by EDDC or its officers.

    And let’s not forget that for decades, EDDC’s informal reputation was as one of the most corrupt councils in the country. Literally the very first piece of advice I was given when I moved to East Devon was that the EDDC planning was corrupt. Yet despite these widespread rumours, there was (to my knowledge) never any investigation by D&C Police or any other formal organisation to see whether these rumours had any substance.

    One has to wonder whether the dodgy handshake brigade is the connection and the reason for this behaviour?


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