High Court reinstates winning Conservative candidate following mistaken declaration by Nelson Town Council returning officer
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The court ordered that Julie Green, who was standing in the Marsden West ward of Nelson Town Council, should now be allowed to take up her seat on the council.
Miss Green received 65 more votes than her opponent, Patricia Hannah-Wood, at the elections in May. However, she was prevented from taking her position as councillor after the returning officer made a mistake and declared the runner-up as the winner.
The officer later advised that electoral law meant the only way to correct this was via an election petition. Miss Green duly issued a petition, after which Miss Hannah-Wood resigned her seat.
The returning officer then argued that the petition could not succeed, with her barrister arguing the legislation on resignations meant the petition was now hopeless and that Miss Green should pay her legal costs.
Her legal team argued the votes cast on May 4th should be ignored and that Miss Green should withdraw her petition.
On winning her case, Julie said: “I am delighted that the court has agreed that the votes people cast should be respected, and I can’t wait to start doing the job I should have started months ago for the people of Marsden West ward.
Julie’s solicitor James Roochove added: “This was an important case. If the Returning Officer’s argument had succeeded, it would have caused chaos to the way we challenge election results in the UK.
“It would have given the person being challenged in court an effective power of veto over the whole process by resigning, potentially costing petitioners tens of thousands and, in cases like Julie’s, could see perfectly legitimate election results being ignored and public money being wasted on unnecessary by-elections. Happily, this judgment ruled that out.
“I’m delighted to be able to help Julie through what has been a very stressful time and I am also indebted to the invaluable help provided by her barrister Greg Callus of 5RB.”