Planning row councillor in East Devon quits post after video
A councillor reportedly caught on camera boasting about his ability to secure planning permission "at the right price" has resigned after he was 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."
Mr Brown told the Western Morning News last night: "I have resigned. I will say once again that I am innocent and things have been misconstrued. But with the pressure building the only thing I could do was to resign."
He added that he had written a statement to fellow councillors informing them of the decision.
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Yesterday, 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 Councillor 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 Councillor 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.
"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."
Mr Brown, who had been suspended from the Conservative Party, has admitted being "embarrassed" by the video. But he had earlier said he would not step down as member for Feniton and Buckerell, claiming he had done nothing wrong and was "taken out of context". He said yesterday: "I welcome any chance to get my name cleared. I feel I was a victim of a con by the Daily Telegraph reporters."
No-one from Devon and Cornwall Police was available for comment.