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Thursday, 11 April, 2002, 08:49 GMT 09:49 UK
Dame complains to Europe over 26m bill
Shirley Porter
Dame Shirley says the decision breaches human rights
Former council leader Dame Shirley Porter has complained to the European Court of Human Rights against the massive penalty imposed on her over a housing scandal.

Last year the Law Lords ruled the Tesco heiress should pay more than 26m for her role in the "homes for votes" affair in the 1980s.

It was claimed the former Westminster Council leader had sold council houses to Tory voters to try to boost the party's election prospects.

However, she alleges that she was unfairly treated by an investigation into the affair and that the hearing relied on evidence that was "unfair and prejudicial".

We are confident that the complaint will be upheld

Mark Spragg
Dame Shirley's solicitor

Dame Shirley is using Article 6 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights - which states that everyone is entitled to a fair and impartial hearing - to contest the decision.

In her letter to the Strasbourg court, Dame Shirley said: "The 26.46m surcharge is a breach of Article 6 and was unfair and disproportionate, especially as no personal gain was involved.

"The courts which decided the merits of the case relied on evidence which was unfair and prejudicial.

"Decisions of both the Divisional Court and the Law Lords were in breach of article 14 in that they were discriminatory and factually inconsistent."

Her move comes after a decision by the Conservative-led London authority to speed up its efforts to recover the debt, incurred in what the Lords ruled was a case of "political corruption".

Her solicitor Mr Mark Spragg said: "We are asking the Court to expedite this complaint as soon as possible.

"The case has already dragged on for 15 years.

"We are confident that the complaint will be upheld."

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See also:

28 Dec 01 | England
Action starts over Dame's 27m bill
13 Dec 01 | England
Dame ordered to pay 27m
30 Apr 99 | UK Politics
Steely will of a Tory tiger
27 Mar 99 | UK Politics
Porter appeal judgement delayed
22 Mar 99 | UK Politics
Porter 'will clear name'
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