A council chief executive called the police and asked a newspaper editor for his source after a council insider leaked plans to demolish the local civic offices and build a marina.
The leak to the Bournemouth Daily Echo came after a confidential briefing for councillors and officers last month and prompted Christchurch Borough Council and East Dorset District Council chief executive David McIntosh to send out a letter to staff about the matter, which he said he had “discussed with police”.
The internal letter was then also leaked to the daily newspaper.
While the Echo reported on plans to demolish the civic offices when it broke late last month, it only revealed today that McIntosh had contacted police over the matter.
A spokeswoman for Dorset Police confirmed the force had been contacted, saying: “When approached, officers regularly give guidance about whether a matter is criminal or not.
“In relation to this incident, advice was given that in the described circumstances no criminal offences would have been committed and it would be for the organisation to address the issue internally.”
Echo editor Andy Martin said the leaks had been part of an “ongoing battle” with the Tory-run council because he said“a lot of decisions are being made behind closed doors without the required scrutiny from backbenchers”.
He said McIntosh had asked him who the source was at a mayor-making ceremony both men attended, which he refused to answer.
Martin said: “It’s absolutely ludicrous for a council chief executive to ask for a journalist to divulge their sources because we’re never going to do that in a month of Sundays and he knows that.
“It’s also ludicrous for him to contact the police over something that’s clearly not a police matter.”
A council spokeswoman said: “Councillors held an informal briefing to discuss what was, and remains, a confidential matter due to its commercial sensitivity.
“No decision-making was involved. Discussions regarding a breach of confidentiality have taken place and any further investigation is now an internal matter.”