Former East Devon councillor stripped of Honorary Alderman title after being convicted of sexual assault

  Posted: 09.09.21 at 17:00 by Philippa Davies

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Former East Devon District councillor John Humphreys has been removed as an Honorary Alderman after being imprisoned for sexual assault.

The decision was unanimously made to officially strip the former councillor and Mayor of Exmouth of his Honorary Alderman title at an extraordinary general meeting of the council.

John Humphreys, 59, was jailed for 21 years in August after being found guilty of three counts of serious sexual assault and seven of indecent assault against two boys, aged 12 and 13, in the 1990s and 2000s at Exeter Crown Court.

He was a former Mayor of Exmouth and served for 12 years as a Conservative councillor on East Devon District Council before stepping down ahead of the May 2019 local elections.

He was made an Honorary Alderman in December 2019. Mr Humphreys accepted the honour despite knowing that he was under investigation by the police.

Statement from the district council's chairman

East Devon District Council’s chair, Councillor Ian Thomas, has released the following statement on the matter: “Members will be aware of the recent trial and conviction of a former East Devon District councillor.

“John Humphreys has been found guilty of ten charges, relating to the sexual assault of two young boys between 1990 and 2001. His 21-year jail sentence and addition to the sex offenders’ list for life, reflect the gravity of his crimes.

“Firstly, and most importantly, I should like to extend my sympathy and that of the council, to the two victims and their families.

“A large part of their lives has been dominated by unimaginable experiences as children. I hope that the conviction and sentence handed down may offer some level of closure.

“In 2019, EDDC awarded the position of Honorary Alderman to Mr Humphreys. This position was established under the Local Government Act 1972 and is awarded in recognition of valued service to the community represented and the council.

“As chair of the council, recognising Mr Humphreys’ offences, conviction, and sentence, I do not believe he is a fit person to hold this honour.

“I therefore called this evening's extraordinary general meeting, to put the sole recommendation, that the award of Honorary Alderman be withdrawn from John Humphreys forthwith."

Cllr Hall's recommendation was unanimously passed.

Should all councillors have DBS checks?

The Conservative group of councillors at East Devon have now called for Disclosure and Barring (DBS) checks for all existing councillors.

The group wants every prospective candidate and all existing councillors to undergo the checks which show any criminal convictions, with the enhanced version required if an individual is expected to work with vulnerable people, including children, being demonstrated as necessary during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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