Northern Ireland

Fermanagh election result legal challenge begins

Rodney Connor is challenging the election result
Image caption Rodney Connor is challenging the election result

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone Unionist Unity candidate, who was beaten by four votes in the General Election, has begun a legal challenge to the result.

Rodney Connor has asked the election court to review his narrow defeat to Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew in May.

His legal team claimed six votes had been included in Ms Gildernew's total which should have been rejected.

A barrister for the electoral office told the court Mr Connor had not taken up a facility to inspect the votes.

Mr Connor's legal representatives also alleged that 36 more ballots were counted than had been issued at the polling stations.

'Disputed'

They said 11 ballots which had been rejected by the Deputy Returning Officer were then admitted by the Chief Electoral Officer at the final recount.

The court heard that none of the disputed papers have been identified amongst the 47,000 ballots, even though they could have affected the result of the election.

Michelle Gildernew's four-vote victory was declared after three recounts.

She has insisted that she was properly returned by the people of Fermanagh and South Tyrone as their MP, retaining the seat she has held since 2001.

Mr Connor, who is a former chief executive of Fermanagh District Council, was ahead by eight votes after the first count.

He is seeking a scrutiny of the votes, a recount and a determination that Ms Gildernew was not duly elected, on the basis of alleged breaches of statutory rules during the election.

The case is expected to last three days and the court has the authority to order a recount, overturn the result or open the way for a by-election.

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