Councillor reported to police over planning boast claims
A councillor reportedly caught on camera boasting about his ability to secure planning permission "at the right price" has been reported to the police.
East Devon councillor Graham Brown was said to have told undercover reporters posing as overseas investors he had "access to all the right people for the right clients" and said: "If I can't get planning, nobody will."
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East Devon District Council confirmed in a statement that it had reported the matter to Devon and Cornwall Police.
The authority's chief executive Mark Williams said: "Earlier this week we promised to carefully assess comments made by Coun Graham Brown to undercover reporters from the Daily Telegraph and to respond on the powers the council has to deal with possible breaches of the councillor code of conduct.
"Whilst Coun Brown is not a member of the planning committee which decides on planning applications his claims of being able to influence the system have deeply troubled both the council and the public.
"We have said before that we take the honesty and integrity of our planning system very seriously, and as such we have decided to report the matter to the police so they can decide if a criminal investigation is called for. We will of course cooperate fully with any investigation.
"Although a formal councillor code of conduct complaint has been received, the nature of the material published by the Daily Telegraph suggests a referral to the police under the Bribery Act 2010 is appropriate and the best thing we can do is involve the police as an independent body."
Coun Brown, who has been suspended from the Conservative Party, has admitted being "embarrassed" by the video.
But he has refused to step down as member for Feniton and Buckerell, despite calls for his resignation, claiming he had done nothing wrong and was "taken out of context".
"I am definitely not going to resign though I can understand people being upset," he said. "I was turned over… I have been duped in what was an act of entrapment.
"I am embarrassed for my colleagues at East Devon council and I will live to regret it… I was appealing to a client and it has been exposed as me doing something corrupt, which I haven't been."