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DAVIES DEFENDS WELSH COUNTERS

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Welsh secretary Ron Davies this week defended Welsh local government chiefs in their role as counting officers in t...
Welsh secretary Ron Davies this week defended Welsh local government chiefs in their role as counting officers in the recent referendum.

Mr Davies has come under mounting criticism following his admission that in some council areas votes on whether to set up a Welsh assembly were not counted in accordance with last-minute advice.

Rejecting a call from Owen Patterson, a Conservative member of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee, for a public inquiry into the referendum, Mr Davies said the chief executives 'did their duty honourably, fairly and in accordance with regulations laid down by Parliament'.

'I hope we have now seen the end of this unsubstantiated campaign of smear and innuendo against honest, decent and sincere public servants,' he said.

The controversy followed revelations last week that the chief counting officer had issued regional counting officers with last-minute advice on how to interpret voting intentions on the ballot papers. This was prompted by a query raised by Denbighshire CC once counting had begun. His advice did not get through to counting officers in Powys and Pembrokeshire CCs.

'That guidance benefited the No campaign to the tune of several hundred votes in Denbighshire and presumably several thousand throughout Wales,' Mr Davies said.

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