THE leader of Rugby Borough Council has denied any wrongdoing after a magazine insinuated there was a conflict of interest between his professional life and his role as council leader.
Cllr Craig Humphrey featured in the May 17 edition of Private Eye, which referred to an article in the Advertiser in March describing Rugby Borough Council’s Local Authority Mortgage Scheme. The £1m scheme helps first-time buyers obtain cheaper lending rates on their mortgage. In the article the Advertiser used quotes sourced from the estate agents Horts along with a picture of Cllr Humphrey, a freelance property consultant, and employees of the firm.
Private Eye said the Conservative group leader, who trades under the Horts name, did not declare an interest in promoting mortgage applications when the scheme was voted through in February as part of an item that contained the rest of the council’s 2012/13 budget. The magazine also claimed Cllr Humphrey did not list Horts as his employer on borough council Register of Personal Interests.
In response Cllr Humphrey said that since his role as a property consultant had been listed on the register - a public document on the council’s website - since last September, there was no conflict of interest.
He said: “As far as I’m concerned there’s no issue. The story in Private Eye said there was a conflict of interest but that’s an absolute fabrication. I’ve spoken to the senior officers at the council and they’ve assured me I’ve acted appropriately.
“My role as a property consultant has been listed on my register of personal interests since the day I became one.”
He added that Horts estate agent wasn’t listed as his employer because he is a freelance advisor, who “trades under the banner of Horts”, and not an employee of the Regent Street firm. The mortgage scheme was voted through with the rest of the council’s 2012/13 budget during a full council meeting on February 23.
Cllr Jerry Roodhouse, leader of Rugby Liberal Democrats said he was concerned by the matter, and he felt Cllr Humphrey should also have declared a personal interest at the meeting when the item was voted through.
Cllr Jim Shera, Rugby Labour leader, added that if the council’s senior officers said there was no wrongdoing by Cllr Humphrey, then as far as he was concerned there was no issue.