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MARRIED ELECTION CANDIDATES' VOTES MAY HAVE BEEN ADDED TOGETHER

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An election official's mathematical slip led to a Conservative Party candidate being wrongly returned to office, it...
An election official's mathematical slip led to a Conservative Party candidate being wrongly returned to office, it was claimed at London's High Court heard.

Following 1 May 2003's local elections, Joan Davies from Garswood, near Wigan, was elected to Seneley Green parish council, winning the last of the eight seats.

But Mr Justice Jackson ordered a recount of the vote after hearing the number of votes polled by Mrs Davies were 'widely' out of line with those cast for her Conservative colleagues.

Mrs Davies' election to the parish council is being challenged by Labour candidate, Sandra Cleary, also from Garswood, who was squeezed into the losing ninth place with 904 votes.

Gavin Millar, for Mrs Cleary, told Mr Justice Jackson it appeared Mrs Davies had been wrongly given 513 votes cast for her husband - a fellow Tory - as well as 512 of her own.

The most likely explanation, said Mr Millar, was that an election officer hadn't cleared his or her calculator properly when starting the process of counting Mrs Davies' votes.

If that was the case, he argued, Mrs Cleary - whose husband George is already on the parish council - should have come in eighth place and won a seat.

After hearing just 10 minutes of legal arguments, Mr Justice Jackson ordered that the votes be recounted.

However he was quick to point out that Mrs Davies - who wasn't actually present at the count - was utterly blameless in what had happened.

Earlier her legal team had argued that there was no evidence the election official - who is yet to be identified - had made a mistake.

STRAND NEWS SERVICE

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