Suffolk

Great Cornard Parish Council election blunder corrected in court

An Independent councillor has won his legal battle to correct an election blunder which saw a Labour candidate with fewer votes elected ahead of him.

Nicholas May polled more votes in the Great Cornard Parish Council elections in May, but Barry Estabrook was mistakenly declared "duly elected".

Mr May won 293 votes to his rival's 258 as 13 candidates stood for seven seats.

The High Court in London has corrected the mistake and Mr May can now take up his post.

The returning officer, Babergh District Council's Patricia Rockall, declared Mr Estabrook the winner in the parish's south ward following the election on 5 May.

'Most angry'

The senior judges at the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Justice Griffith Williams and Mr Justice Macduff, ruled that the mishap was "a special case" and altered the result.

Both sides' legal teams declined to confirm how much the case had run up in legal costs.

A statement from Babergh District Council said: "Babergh is pleased that the misdeclaration has been corrected.

"At this stage, we do not know the costs involved, but the combination of those of the petitioner plus those of the returning officer are likely to be covered by our insurers."

Mick Cornish, Labour chairman of Great Cornard Parish Council, said: "I was most angry at the time, but thank goodness this mistake has been sorted out.

"Although the cost is not directly borne by the rate-payers, it does manifest itself in the insurance premiums that councils throughout the country have to pay.

"A few months of quiet progress would be greatly welcomed by all of us."

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