Suffolk Council launches staff welfare inquiry after death of legal head

An independent inquiry has been launched into staff welfare in Suffolk County Council’s legal department following the death of acting legal head David White.


Woodbridge, Suffolk
Woodbridge, Suffolk

An independent inquiry has been launched into staff welfare in Suffolk County Council’s legal department following the death of acting legal head David White.

White’s body was found in Butley Woods, near Woodbridge, on 4 April. Police are not treating the death as suspicious.

White had worked for the local authority for over 20 years and his death came just days after the departure of the council’s former head of legal and monitoring officer, Eric Whitfield, and resource management director Graham Dixon.

A council spokesman confirmed that interim council leader Jane Storey, who took charge earlier this month after Jeremy Pembroke stepped down as leader, had personally commissioned the inquiry by an independent firm outside Suffolk to probe concerns over staff welfare within the legal team.

The concerns stem from an anonymous email sent to Storey and other senior councillors following White’s death, calling for more support for legal staff.

In a statement, Storey said: “I can confirm I have received an anonymous correspondence and an independent inquiry has been initiated in line with county council procedures. It would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment until that inquiry is completed.”

Former council leader Pembroke had spearheaded a round of changes at the local authority, including plans to outsource many council services.

The council currently has a recruitment freeze across all departments in an effort to slash its 10,000 workforce by 1400, but other cuts or changes to the council’s legal services have yet to be confirmed.