Youngest Tory councillor supports Free Speech Charter

Josh Murphy, pictured in 2011 after becoming the youngest  councillor at HDC.
Josh Murphy, pictured in 2011 after becoming the youngest councillor at HDC.

Despite the Conservative leadership on Horsham District Council appearing to ignore the County Times Free Speech Charter - their youngest serving member today said he would sign.

Josh Murphy will be the second Tory councillor to make the commitment.

On Monday the council’s vice chairman Christian Mitchell pledged his support.

The Charter - which already has the backing of the Lib Dem minority group on the council as well as UKIP nationally and locally - has been launched in response to claims that the ruling Tory group whip votes, make key decisions in secret group meetings, and vet letters and articles sent to the County Times.

It follows the unprecedented deselection of Mr Mitchell as chairman elect in a whipped vote. He said he had paid the price for articulating his residents’ concerns about massive development in North Horsham.

The Charter states: “I undertake to speak, write and vote on behalf of my constituents without fear or favour of party discipline. If I am a member of a political party, I will respect its values and honour its pre-election manifesto pledges - but I will always put first the people I am elected to serve.”

Future candidates of any political party and none are also invited to be signatories - and two Independent candidates for the 2015 poll have also supported it.

Mr Murphy was the youngest councillor to be elected at the Horsham District Council elections in 2011 at the age of 19.

He is a former student of the Forest School and the College of Richard Collyer.

His decision to sign up to the Charter in the wake of the Christian Mitchell controversy will be seen as incredibly brave and principled.