A legal challenge against an accepted spoilt ballot paper in the Cotswold District Council local elections in May has been rejected by the High Court.
The Independent candidate for Tetbury Town, Kevin Painter, took legal action after he lost the seat to Conservative candidate Stephen Hirst by one vote due to council officers accepting the ballot paper.
The paper, originally placed in the spoilt pile, showed a voter had written ‘Brexit’ with an arrow pointing to Mr Hirst’s name .
Cotswold District Council released a statement after today’s High Court hearing in London saying it respects the verdict to uphold the decision to approve the ballot paper.
Speaking after the hearing in High Court, in London, Mr Painter said he was ‘shellshocked’ by the outcome.
The district council has previously said the decision was made in line with guidance from the Electoral Commission.
Mr Painter added he was ordered to pay £10,000 in court costs today at the High Court, and that he is looking to either appeal or launch a judicial review.
He said: “We will have to see what can be done. I am still absolutely shellshocked. It’s about the principle I am fighting for, and in these days there no longer seems to be any.”
Councillor Stephen Hirst said: “Everybody has the right to challenge as long as it is fit and proper. I am pleased with the verdict.”
Cllr Richard Morgan, Conservative leader on the district council, said: “We are obviously pleased that two high court judges have concluded that the vote was legitimate and the returning officer at the district council correctly identified Stephen Hirst as the winner of a very close election.
“I am hopeful we can all now move forwards and continue to do the job at hand which is to hold the Liberal Democrat administration on the district council to account.”