The result declared on January 24th 2020
The Conservative candidates in the Barnhill by-election case today lost their case against Carolyn Downs, Brent Council Returning Officer in a Queens Bench hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice.
The recount ordered as a result of the petition by losing candidates Stefan Voloseniuc and Kanta Mistry revealed only a handful of votes difference in the by-election declaration which had given the Labour candidates Gaynor Lloyd and Mansoor Akram victory. The Conservative allegation that a 100 vote bundle had been placed in the wrong bundle was therefore unfounded.
The Court also found that Carolyn Downs' refusal of a recount in the early hours of January 24th 2020 had been reasonable and vindicated by the Court recount. Mr Justice Holgate said that the petitioners had not only requested a recount but their intention was clearly to unseat the Labour candidates.
Mr Justice Holgate said that after the Court recount (the result of which had not been publicised) the petitioners had taken no action for 4 months which had caused Downs to seek a special case.
The by-election had been declared correctly and this was not now in dispute between the parties concerned.
On the matter of the missing seal on a bag of votes, Brent Council had been open about the matter and informed the parties immediately and the explanation that the cause was the poor quality of the seals at the time accepted.
The petitioners were ordered to pay costs of £30,000 to Carolyn Downs as Returning Officer and a total of £38,000 legals costs to Cllr Lloyd and Cllr Akram.
When there was some delay and prevarication over the costs negotiations Mr Justice Holgate said that this should have been decided between parties before the hearing. The difference between the parties was small and a detailed assessment would add disproportionately to the costs. Clearly irritated, he said that this was a very, very. very small issue and urged those involved to get it into perspective - he had a very large planning case to decide.
Ironically, Stefan Voloseniuc had been a member of the Labour Party in Barnhill ward shortly before he switched parties to the Conservatives. Maybe not a good move.