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Election Court Dismisses Election Challenge Following Recount

Sarah Sackman

The Divisional Court granted an application for a Special Case and dismissed an election petition challenging the local governmet election for Barnhill ward in the London Borough of Brent held on 23 January 2020. Following a recount of the ballots held under Covid restrictions, the original result of the election, which returned two Labour Party councillors, was declared to be correct.
 
That left the matter of costs. The Petitioners argued that the costs of the successful candidates should be borne by the Returning Officer who had rejected the Petitioners’ request for a recount on the night of the election itself. Rule 46 of Election Petition Rules 2006 entitles a returning officer to refuse a recount if in her opinion the request is not reasonable. The Court held there were no grounds for challenging the judgement of an experienced officer. The Petitioners’ allegation that a bundle of ballots had been placed in the wrong pile, was serious but unfounded. It was never raised with the Returning Officer at the count so she could not be blamed for failing to take it into account.
 
In the end, the Petitioners were order to pay all the costs in the petition of the successful candidates and the Returning Officer.
 
Sarah Sackman acted for the successful candidates Cllrs Akram and Lloyd of Brent Council.