30 April 2010
Richard Stein and Rosa Curling have been instructed by Jim Miller to challenge the by-election results for South Ward, Leominster Town Council.
Mr Miller applied to stand in the election as an independent candidate, partly in protest at the local MP, Bill Wiggin’s parliamentary expenses. Mr Wiggin came under fire earlier this year after it was revealed he had claimed £11,000 mortgage payments for a mortgage that did not exist on his second home. Mr Wiggin admitted he put the wrong address on several expenses forms due to "human error", but insisted he has only ever claimed expenses on his London home. He apologised for his mistake.
Mr Miller, having received advice from Herefordshire Council’s Electoral Office, submitted his nomination paper on the morning of 28 May 2009, the day before the close of nominations. It was signed by Mr Miller’s wife and his neighbour, one of whom lives in South Ward and the other North Ward. The staff at the Returning Officer’s office checked Mr Miller’s form and confirmed it was in order.
Then, on the afternoon of 29 May 2009, Mr Miller received a phone call from the Council informing him that the advice they had provided was incorrect and that he would have to resubmit his nomination form, with signatures from two residents of South Ward. Mr Miller duly did so and on 3 June 2009 received a signed validation of his nomination and candidacy.
Then, on June 15, with the election 10 days away, the Electoral Office contacted Mr Miller again and told him that once again they had decided the advice provided to him (on this second occasion) has also been wrong and his nomination form was invalid.
The consequence of this decision was that the only other candidate, Benson Ferrari (Chairman of Herefordshire and Shropshire Tory Party Youth Wing ‘Conservative Future’) was to be elected “unopposed”, thereby depriving the local population an opportunity to express an opinion on Mr Wiggin's conduct regarding his parliamentary expenses.
Leigh Day has advised Mr Miller that the Council’s decision to declare his nomination form invalid is unlawful. The Returning Officer’s original decision to confirm Mr Miller’s nomination was a final decision that he could not overturn. A letter before action has been sent to the Council and a response is currently awaited.
For more information please contact Richard Stein or Rosa Curling on 020 7650 1200.
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