Suffolk County Council: Inquiry in the wake of officer tragedy

SUFFOLK: An independent inquiry was today due to be set up into the legal department at Endeavour House.

An independent inquiry has today been launched into the county’s legal department following the death of acting monitoring officer David White.

Mr White’s sudden death shocked his department, coming just days after the departure from the council of monitoring officer Eric Whitfield and director of resource management Graham Dixon.

The Evening Star understands that these events upset many of the staff in the department and some felt they needed more support during a very difficult time.

A letter was sent to senior councillors, including interim leader Jane Storey, council chairman Eddy Alcock and leaders of opposition parties, asking for help to be given to staff in the department.

Mrs Storey decided to call in an independent person from outside the county council who will look at the legal department to see if it needs more support.

She said: “I can confirm I have received an anonymous correspondence and an independent inquiry has been initiated in line with county council procedures.

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“It would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment until that inquiry is completed.” The council was not able to say who would be conducting the independent inquiry.

The inquiry comes at a turbulent time for the county council which is in the throes of an election battle for the political leadership of the authority.

Nominations for the leadership election have to be handed in to Conservative Party agent Peter Burgoyne by today and the election is due to take place on Monday morning.

The three declared runners are adult care portfolio holder Colin Noble, transport and planning portfolio holder Guy McGregor and scrutiny committee chairman Mark Bee, who is also leader of Waveney Council.

Whoever wins the leadership on Monday will become leader of the Conservative group on the county – but will not take over as council leader until the authority’s annual meeting on May 26.

Mrs Storey, who had been deputy leader, will remain interim leader of the authority until that date.