Probe begins into how child sex offender was allowed to continue as a Councillor for Exmouth and East Devon

An independent probe has begun into how a jailed district councillor from Exmouth was awarded the honour of alderman after he was investigated for historic child sex offences.

Former Exmouth mayor John Humphreys in August 2021 was found guilty and jailed for a string of sex offences against two underage boys between 1990 and 2001.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) has queried how Humphreys was allowed to continue as councillor for three years after his arrest and why he was awarded Honorary Alderman in 2019, recognising his ‘valued service’ to the council, and the community he represented.

EDDC councillors have now voted to commission an independent report to investigate the circumstances of how Humphreys came to be nominated and given the accolade.

The motion was approved by councillors at the EDDC full council meeting, held on Wednesday, April 20.

It said: “That the council commissions an independent report by the Local Government Association or the Centre for Public Scrutiny or another appropriate independent body to be expeditiously brought to Cabinet to provide a clear understanding how John Humphreys, despite his arrest in May 2016 continued to serve as a Councillor until May 2019, retained his position as ‘Lead Member for Exmouth’ and went on to be bestowed the honour of an alderman by this Council in December 2019.

“In particular the report will focus on the circumstances of how John Humphreys came to be nominated and bestowed the award of an aldermanship despite being under criminal investigation at the time.

“The Council will put on hold the remainder of the scrutiny recommendations (on the future of appointing alderman and alderwomen) pending the receipt and consideration of the independent report by the Cabinet.”

EDDC’s chief executive will prepare a report for consideration at a future meeting of the council’s cabinet.

After Humphrey’s conviction, EDDC announced In September 2021 it had stripped the disgraced former Councillor of his Honorary Alderman status.

Former Exmouth mayor John Humphreys is jailed for 21 years for sex assaults on schoolboys

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