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Last Updated: Friday, 13 October 2006, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
Court rejects MP's seat challenge
Ed Balls with Chancellor Gordon Brown
Ed Balls left his job with Gordon Brown to become an MP last year
One of Gordon Brown's closest allies has suffered a defeat in his battle to stop his constituency being scrapped.

Economic Secretary Ed Balls and three local MPs have been fighting a Boundary Commission decision to do away with his West Yorkshire seat of Normanton.

They applied jointly to the High Court last month for a judicial review of the change but their bid has been rejected, they have announced.

A joint statement said the loss of a constituency was disappointing news.

The statement released on behalf of Mr Balls and the three neighbouring Labour MPs - Jon Trickett (Hemsworth), Yvette Cooper (Pontefract & Castleford) and Mary Creagh (Wakefield) - revealed the application for judicial review had been turned down.

Decision 'flawed'

It said: "This is very disappointing news for thousands of people in the district of Wakefield who strongly opposed seeing their representation in Parliament reduced from four MPs to three.

"It is very unfortunate that this matter will not now be heard in the courts.

"We had strong legal advice that the Boundary Commission was both wrong in the substance of its decision and flawed procedurally."

An inquiry last year by the commission's assistant commissioner, Frances Patterson, recommended the constituency should be retained as one of four seats in the Wakefield district.

But the commission announced in January it did not accept her findings and intended to go ahead with the proposal to cut the district to three seats.

The four MPs claim the body broke its own rules by not following Ms Patterson's recommendation.

However, they said the High Court had ruled that the commission "is not bound... by the precise provisions of the rules".

"This is a matter of serious concern," the MPs' statement continued.

"It cannot be right that the Boundary Commission is unable to be held to account, since there is a strong case that it failed properly to apply its own rules, came to an inappropriate conclusion and needs to assure local people that they have been treated fairly."

The statement went on: "If the commission is to retain public support, its arguments and procedures need to be robust and capable of public scrutiny.

"We intend to ensure that this is raised in Parliament at the earliest opportunity."

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