Advisor’s criminal investigation: “someone knew”

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John Humphreys became an East Devon Council alderman

Allegation against an anonymous person in East Devon

Someone at East Devon District Council (EDDC) knew that former Tory councilor John Humphreys was being investigated for child sex crimes while still a councillor, it has been reported alleged.

Labor Councilor Paul Millar (Exmouth Halsdon) made the claim at a full council meeting this week.

Mr Humphreys, 60, who was also mayor of Exmouth, is currently serving a 21-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting two teenagers 10 years apart.

Cllr Humphreys was arrested in 2016 before being released on bail on suspicion of the crimes he would eventually be convicted of in August last year.

Cllr Paul Millar says senior East Devon District Council official knew councilor was under police investigation

Cllr Millar’s claim could have serious implications for the council. The investigation into Mr Humphreys was not made public at the time and he continued to serve as a councilor until May 2019, before being awarded the honorary title of alderman by the EDDC in December of the same year.

Although he has been under investigation since 2016, no EDDC officer or adviser said he had knowledge of the allegations against Mr Humphreys during his tenure or when he was appointed councillor. Following his conviction in August last year, the council withdrew that honour.

Addressing the council, Cllr Millar said: “I regret to share that I have been informed by someone whom I consider to be a very reliable source that a senior member of East Devon District Council has been officially informed while Mr. Humphreys was an adviser that Mr. Humphreys was under formal investigation by the police for sexual allegations.

In response to the claim, an EDDC spokesperson said the issues raised by Cllr Millar would be something the Cabinet of the Council “should consider in due course”.

At the meeting, councilors agreed to commission an external inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Mr Humphreys from 2016, when he was first arrested, until he received his alderman’s award in 2019.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Cllr Millar said: ‘There has to be a way for individuals involved in any way in the [alderman] appointment process are able to intervene to prevent the appointment of a potentially inappropriate person.

“The principle of innocence until proven guilty does not apply to persons facing serious charges and at the same time receiving civic honors.

“No sane institution should ever risk offering civic honor if it had knowledge within that institution of a serious criminal investigation that might be taking place.”

Cllr Jess Bailey (Independent, West Hill and Aylesbeare), who came up with the idea for an external report, said he should have one key thing in mind: ‘protecting children and safeguarding children’ .

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