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Thursday, 02 October 2014

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Cumbrian election challenges rejected by High Court

Two legal bids challenging the way county council elections were run last year have been thrown out by High Court judges.

Diane Wood photo
Diane Wood

The petitions relating to the elections in Maryport South and the Moss Bay and Moorclose areas of Workington were launched last May.

In Maryport, four voters – Jean Gartland, Alison Rumney, Charlotte Rumney and Steven Musgrave – made a number of claims. Many were concerned about how the postal vote was run.

Meanwhile, the Moss Bay and Moorclose petition was brought by Stephen Stoddart, who stood as an independent candidate in the division. He was challenging the decision not to offer him a recount when the first count showed he had lost by 20 votes.

Two judges, sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, have ruled that the petitioners had not complied with the relevant legal requirements and that their petitions should be dismissed.

Mr Justice Supperstone and Mr Justice Jay also ordered that costs be awarded to the election’s returning officer.

It is understood money already paid by the four people in Maryport who objected as part of the formal petitioning process has covered their costs. It is not yet clear how much Mr Stoddart will have to pay for his failed legal bid.

Allerdale Council ran the local the election on behalf of Cumbria County Council.

Diane Wood, chief executive of the county council, said: “I am delighted at the outcome, but disappointed that we have been obliged to go through this distracting and diverting process. It is now time for everyone to move on.

“I am confident that the local elections held in these two divisions last year were robust and fair and that the two councillors who won the elections, councillor Keith Little and councillor Gerald Humes, are the ones who won the most votes fairly and squarely. These are the people who the local electorate decided they want to represent them and make decisions on their behalf.”

The two authorities have also reaffirmed that local people can have confidence that the democratic profess is run fairly and impartially.

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