Council won't say if departed senior officer received a payout

North Norfolk District Council is doing an IT upgrade, meaning its local search departmet is closed

Senior figures at North Norfolk District Council have questioned an officer's exit - Credit: Archant

Senior councillors in north Norfolk are staying tight-lipped over whether an officer who suddenly departed the authority received a payout.

Conservative councillors at North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) lined up on Wednesday to question the departure of Duncan Ellis, the former director of finance, and whether he was given an "extraordinary departure deal".

Mr Ellis left the council just before the Jubilee bank holiday earlier this month. 

Councillors' questions centred around a document which appeared to have been backdated by Mr Ellis and another former staff member in 2019. 

The document was discovered by external audit company Ernst and Young in March 2022.

Signatures on the form were dated May 20, 2019, but the review found the form was not downloaded and printed off until October 9, 2019. 

Nigel Dixon, councillor on North Norfolk District Council. Picture: NNDC

Nigel Dixon, councillor on North Norfolk District Council. Picture: NNDC - Credit: Archant

Councillor Nigel Dixon said an email from the chief executive was "brief and almost sterile" when he announced the "no-notice" departure of Mr Ellis. 

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Mr Dixon said: "What more can the leader add to explain why that happened the way it did and whether there was any connection to the many serious criticisms of North Norfolk District Council and the notorious events of May to December 2019, made by Ernst and Young in their annual report for 2019-20?"

Tim Adams, the leader of NNDC, said it would not be appropriate to discuss matters relating to previous members of staff.

Tim Adams, leader of North Norfolk District Council.

Tim Adams, leader of North Norfolk District Council. - Credit: Supplied by the Liberal Democrat

He said: "There is no precedent for discussing these matters at any other local authority, certainly not here, and it would not be appropriate to do so."

This was followed by Christopher Cushing asking if any deals were done, to what extent Mr Adams was involved in any deals and did he approve them.

Mr Adams repeated his previous comment.

This led Tom Fitzpatrick to accuse the leader of sidestepping questions and not meeting the Nolan principles - ethical standards that people working in the public sector are expected to adhere to.

Other questions included whether councillors could be told confidentially or whether they could get general details.

North Norfolk's Conservative MP Duncan Baker recently questioned if Mr Ellis' departure was a result of him raising the issue with council leaders.