Ex-councillor contests election result

A FORMER county councillor has announced he is formally contesting last week's election results claiming inaccuracies written about him in the lead-up to the ballot might have cost him his seat.

Laurence Cawley

A FORMER county councillor has announced he is formally contesting last week's election results claiming inaccuracies written about him in the lead-up to the ballot might have cost him his seat.

In one of the biggest shocks in last Thursday's Suffolk County Council elections, the Liberal Democrat author and charity campaigner Craig Dearden-Phillips beat two sitting councillors - Independent Paul Hopfensperger and the Tory Stefan Oliver - to win the Hardwick division in Bury St Edmunds

But the victory came amid controversy over a Liberal Democrat election flyer which incorrectly suggested Mr Hopfensperger had voted to pay the new county council chief executive Andrea Hill �220,000 a year (which he had not).


You may also want to watch:


Although the Liberal Democrats admitted the error, sent out a revised flyer and publicly apologised to Mr Hopfensperger, the former Tower division councillor claimed it might still have skewed the election results.

In an email seen by the EADT, Mr Hopfensperger wrote to the county council's monitoring officer Eric Whitfield saying he was contesting the result of the elections.

Most Read

He claimed the factual inaccuracies contained in the Liberal Democrat's election flyer could have swayed the 1,000 postal voters who would not have seen the group's apology prior to casting their votes.

He said: “I believe they have won the election based on misleading the electorate at a crucial time when the postal votes were issued, and only issuing an apology after all the postal votes were in.

“There were over 1,000 postal votes and I only lost by just over 200 votes so this may well have had an effect on how people voted.”

Mr Dearden-Phillips, now county councillor for Hardwick, said the Liberal Democrats had fully accepted the mistake and said the group had made every effort to put the situation right in the lead-up to last Thursday's count.

He also praised Mr Hopfensperger's previous work on the county council and said he hoped Mr Hopfensperger would return to the authority in the future.

In a statement last night, Mr Whitfield said: “The law covering election matters is very clear. Unless it can be proven that a comment about a candidate is made knowing it to be false and unless it can be proven that the comment had a direct effect on the outcome of the election, then there is no case to answer.

“If there was evidence of illegal practice then the outcome of successful prosecution would be a fine; there would be no effect on the election result. On the information provided me, I do not believe there is any evidence of illegal practice.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus