Marlborough town boss vows not to quit after code of conduct guilty verdict

Chris Humphries

Chris Humphries

First published in News

Wiltshire councillor Chris Humphries could lose the chairmanship of Marlborough Area Board after being found guilty of five breaches at a code of conduct hearing last week.

But he told the Gazette this week he will not only continue to serve as a councillor but will be seeking re-election next May.

The hearing was held to consider complaints about Coun Humphries from former Marlborough Area Board manager Julia Densham, who now works in the council’s democratic services section.

Coun Humphries has been reprimanded for mistreating Mrs Densham after being found guilty on five out of seven allegations.

One of the sanctions he faces is losing the chairmanship of MAB.

However Coun Humphries, a Conservative who represents the Aldbourne and Ramsbury division, told the Gazette he still refuted Mrs Densham’s allegations after being found guilty in his absence because he and his lawyer Peter Keith-Lucas withdrew from last week’s two day standards hearing.

They withdrew after learning Mrs Densham would be represented by a barrister and they would be unable to challenge his opening and closing submissions.

Yesterday Coun Humphries said: “I have no idea what I do now because I am told there is no appeal procedure but I have no intention of standing down as a councillor and I will be seeking re-election next May.”

In her complaint, originally made in June 2011, Mrs Densham accused Coun Humphries of sending her inappropriate emails and touching her in an inappropriate way.

One of her allegations was that when she was thanked for providing biscuits for a meeting by another officer who said: “We like a nibble during the meeting,” Coun Humphries added: “We all know Mrs Densham enjoys a nibble.”

In other complaints she alleged Coun Humphries used the word “abortion” to describe officer recommendations; “bovine effluent” when discussing one of her emails; and that he said information had disappeared “down a black hole” when describing an issue involving Marlborough’s black youth development officer Jan Bowra, who regularly attends area board meetings.

Following Coun Humphries’ and Mr Keith-Lucas’s decision to withdraw from the tribunal the solicitor issued a statement saying Coun Humphries "strongly disputed" all of the allegations but said Mr Humphries was unable to defend himself satisfactorily due to “a change of procedure” by the council.

In a statement about the procedure the council said: “It meets the relevant statutory requirements and aims to provide a fair and proportionate process for dealing with such complaints”.

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