After more than 40 years representing Aldbourne and surrounding villages on councils for Aldbourne Parish, Kennet District and Wiltshire Country Councils, Chris Humphries still maintains he has no intention of standing down although his own Wiltshire Council Conservative group has suspended him for three months.
Coun Humphries (Aldbourne and Ramsbury) has been suspended by his party colleagues after being found guilty of five breaches of the Local Government code of conduct.
A total of 21 allegations were originally made against him in respect of comments he was said to have made to Julia Densham, who was manager of Wiltshire Council’s Marlborough Area Board of which he is chairman.
He was due to attend a hearing on October 3 at which Mrs Densham’s grievances were heard by a panel of three other Wiltshire councillors but he withdrew at the start of the two-day hearing on the advice of his solicitor Peter Keith-Lucas.
They withdrew because they only learned less than 24 hours before the hearing began that Mrs Densham would be represented by a barrister appointed by her union and that Coun Humphries and his solicitor would not be able to challenge their opening and closing statements.
This week Coun Humphries appeared before his peers on Wiltshire Council’s Conservative group and they decided that, in view of the findings of the hearing, to suspend him from the group for three months.
This decision does not bar him from acting as a councillor and with local elections due next May the Devizes Constituency Conservative Association has still to decide if he will be its official candidate again.
The suspension from the group does not affect his position as chairman of Marlborough Area Board.
Coun Humphries exclusively told the Gazette that he planned to stand again at the next elections for both Aldbourne Parish Council and Wiltshire Council.
He said that although Wiltshire council had censured him in line with the hearing, it had not applied any sanctions affecting his ability to continue to serve as a councillor.
“I am a loyal Conservative and highly respect many members of my local Conservative branch as well as many members of the Wiltshire Council Conservative group. In view of Wiltshire Council not issuing any sanctions I have been really hit by the Conservative group’s decision to suspend me,” he said adding that he was still discussing with lawyers whether to appeal the tribunal decision at a judicial review.
“I have represented this area I live in for over 40 years and with, until this hearing, an unblemished track record that speaks for itself, I intend to stand again.”
Asked if he would stand as an independent if he failed to be re-selected by the Conservatives Coun Humphries said: “No comment at this stage.”