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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 May, 2005, 00:15 GMT 01:15 UK
Row over Alzheimer woman's proxy
Louise Garrett
Mrs Garrett's daughter believes she has been taken advantage of
An inquiry is under way after a Tory local councillor obtained a proxy vote from a woman with Alzheimer's.

Bedford Borough Council cancelled the vote after the issue was raised with them by Louise Garrett's daughter who said her mother was too "vulnerable".

The 77-year-old, a resident at Park House Home in St Andrews Road, Bedford, assigned her vote to borough councillor Robert Rigby for the local elections.

Mr Rigby says he acted fairly and properly in what is a legal practice.

While this practice is not quite illegal it is certainly immoral
Electoral Reform Society

Daughter Noelle Franklin who lives in Meppershall, Bedfordshire said: "I'm furious, that the fact she lives where she does means she is a vulnerable."

Mrs Franklin added: "I feel they have taken advantage of that because they would have realised immediately on chatting to her that she would not have understood about the piece of paper and the signing of it.

"How many more proxy votes have been obtained this way?"

'Granny farming'

Questioned by a BBC reporter, Louise Garrett was asked who she would like to vote for in a General Election she replied that she "didn't really know" and asked if she knew who Prime Minister Tony Blair is she replied that "she had put him to bed".

The practice of signing up elderly home residents is legal.

The Electoral Reform Society said that while the practice - known as "granny farming" - is legal it is immoral and should not be allowed to happen.

In a statement to the BBC, Mr Rigby said: "The proxy vote was obtained fairly and properly, we look forward to receiving the result of the inquiry which we are confident will show we followed the procedures correctly."

A council spokesperson said on Tuesday: "We have cancelled the proxy vote at the request of the complainant and launched an investigation."



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