Tory councillor wins court case to take her seat after local election blunder saw her wrongly declared the loser
- Julie Green was robbed of electoral win in the Lancashire town of Nelson in May
- The name of Labour’s Patricia Hannah-Wood was mistakenly read out instead
- High Court has decided she was elected and has ordered council to repay costs
A Conservative councillor wrongly declared the loser in a local election has won a court case to take her elected seat from her Labour rival.
Julie Green was robbed of her electoral win as councillor for the Lancashire town of Nelson in May when the name of Labour’s Patricia Hannah-Wood was mistakenly read out by officials following the count.
Now a High Court judge has decided that Mrs Green was duly elected and has ordered the council to repay the costs, which are estimated to be around £50,000.
‘I am absolutely delighted, this has been incredibly stressful,’ Mrs Green told The Mail on Sunday.
‘But this should have been straightforward. The Labour Party could have dealt with this in ten minutes as they knew it was not their seat. Instead, it has cost an eye-watering amount of money.’
Julie Green was robbed of her electoral win as councillor for the Lancashire town of Nelson in May when the name of Labour’s Patricia Hannah-Wood was mistakenly read out by officials following the count (file pic)
Mrs Green took the election result to court after officials mistakenly read out the wrong winner and Ms Hannah-Wood, the Labour candidate, refused to step down for the real Tory winner.
Officials quickly realised their error and apologised – but a legal quirk meant the declaration could not be changed.
Despite Mrs Green receiving 65 more votes than Ms Hannah-Wood, she was advised the only way to challenge the result was via an election petition to the High Court, which she swiftly issued.
The petition was sent to Ms Hannah-Wood on June 2, who immediately resigned.
Pendle Borough Council then argued in court that the petition ‘served no purpose’ because of the resignation, which meant there was a vacant seat that could be filled with a by-election.
But on August 3, a High Court judge ruled that the Labour candidate should not have been allowed to take up the position as councillor and that Mrs Green was the rightful winner.
The victory was met with celebration on the town’s Facebook group, with locals writing: ‘Justice at last’ and ‘Rightly so’.
The case has now been written into statute to prevent a repeat.
Mrs Green’s solicitor James Roochove said: ‘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 … potentially costing petitioners tens of thousands and seeing perfectly legitimate election results being ignored.’
Rose Rouse, Pendle Council’s returning officer and chief executive, said: ‘I’m pleased that this matter has now been resolved.
‘I’m very sorry that the error was made and measures are being put in place to prevent this from happening again.’
Pendle Council said it was ‘very sorry that the error was made’ and measures have been put in place to ‘prevent this happening again.’ Pictured: Nelson Town Hall
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