South East Cambs Conservatives to hold closed-doors meeting in response to election complaints

Tory hopeful: Lucy Frazer

Tory hopeful: Lucy Frazer - Credit: Archant

The South East Cambridgeshire Conservative Association is to hold a meeting behind closed doors in response to concerns over its recent parliamentary candidate election.

The Ely Standard was contacted by Ely man Simon Pittock in December calling for the election to be re-run because of what he called unbalanced ballot papers.

Mr Pittock, from Ely, says the SE Cambs Conservatives’ open primary, held on December 7 to decide a successor to sitting MP Sir James Paice, was not valid because of one of the candidate’s names was not in block capitals.

This mistake, Mr Pittock argued, could have created a visual bias and influenced the final result.

The primary was won by barrister Lucy Frazer, who saw off ­competition from Heidi Allen, Paul Bristow and Charlotte Vere.

Mr Pittock, in a letter to Conservative Campaign HQ, said: “There are very exacting regulations issued regarding ballot papers, including positioning of visual guides, boxes and other elements, and, of course, the fact that all ­candidates’ surnames should be presented in block capital letters.

“The reason that these rules exist is to ensure fairness and that no bias can exist within the ballot paper – unfortunately, this cannot be said for certain of this primary.

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“The papers should have been checked before replication and distribution but, obviously, this did not happen correctly and so a bias existed within them.

“It is my intention to push for a nullification of the result based on this.

“I will be contacting the Electoral Commission regarding this matter.”

A party spokeswoman, in an e-mail to Mr Pittock, acknowledged the error but claimed it would not have affected the final result.

However, this week it was announced that the Conservative association had organised a private meeting in response to the complaints, to be held on Friday (January 10).

At the meeting, members of the association will be asked to confirm Mrs Frazer as their desired candidate.