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PORTER INQUIRY: 'GERRYMANDERING' ABSURD AND WRONG DESCRIPTION

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A district auditor was wrong to use the term 'gerrymandering' when he accused former Westminster City Council leade...
A district auditor was wrong to use the term 'gerrymandering' when he accused former Westminster City Council leader Dame Shirley Porter of selling homes to boost the Tory vote, it was claimed yesterday.

Anthony Scrivener QC, defending Dame Shirley, said it was 'absurd' to call it gerrymandering because there was no way of guaranteeing that the buyers would vote Conservative or even vote at all.

He told the public inquiry: 'I can hardly imagine a more emotive word to hit the headlines. If it was gerrymandering it would have been a criminal offence. No-one has suggested that.'

The first phase of the defence on behalf of Dame Shirley has been completed by Mr Scrivener, with the inquiring being adjourned until Tuesday morning.

The delay has been caused because he and his legal team are still preparing the evidence to challenge the size of the £21m surcharge.

They are relying on expert opinions from three accountancy firms to argue that in fact the ratepayers of Westminster had not lost any money through the alleged gerrymandering.

This strand of their evidence will be presented on Tuesday morning, probably with accountants from all three firms appearing as witnesses.

This will take around a day, depending on the number of questions from lawyers for all the parties. This will complete Dame Shirley's defence.

Next up is the barrister for Tory MP Barry Legg who is due to present his defence on Thursday morning. There is a chance that Mr Legg himself will appear in the witness box.

His defence is scheduled to take three days.

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