Confusion reigns as it emerges officials may have announced wrong Conservative candidate for 2015 election
12:14 07 January 2014
Confusion over who has been selected to contest Sir Jim Paice’s South East Cambridgeshire seat for the Conservatives continued to mount this week as it emerged that the wrong candidate may have been selected.
Concerns over the validity of the vote – in which barrister Lucy Frazer triumphed – were originally raised by the Ely Standard in December, with Ely businessman Simon Pittock claiming the vote was invalid because of irregularities with the voting forms.
The open primary to select a Conservative candidate for the 2015 election was held on December 7 and Mr Pittock called for the result to be declared null and void and the ballot re-run.
This week, fresh claims emerged that votes attributed to Ms Frazer may have, in fact, been earmarked for rival candidate Heidi Allen and mistakenly counted in Ms Frazer’s favour.
The SE Cambs Conservative Association, which organised the primary, will hold a meeting behind closed doors tomorrow (Friday) in response to the concerns, with Conservative Party national nominating officer Paul Mabbutt and head of candidates Gareth Fox set to attend.
Complaints from activists allege that voting papers which should have been attributed to businesswoman Ms Allen, were incorrectly allocated to Ms Frazer.
It has been claimed that in the final round of voting, a pile of 25 votes were marked as being for Ms Frazer when, it is alleged, only the top two were. The remaining 23 votes should have been counted for Ms Allen.
It is understood that –although not officially released – Ms Frazer’s winning margin was 36. With the supposedly rogue 23 votes taken into consideration, however, the victory would actually be Ms Allen’s by a margin of 10.
A letter sent to SE Cambs Association members by association president Brian Ashton acknowledged that ‘unsubstantiatable suggestions’ had been made to officers that the ballot result announced was the wrong one.