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Thursday, 11 April, 2002, 18:40 GMT 19:40 UK
Form foul-up scuppers Lib Dems
Charles Kennedy
Mr Kennedy has not so far commented on the mistake
Sixty Liberal Democrats have been barred from next month's local elections after they filled in the wrong party name on their application forms.

Harrow Council
Labour - 32
Conservative - 20
Lib Dem - 9
Independent - 2
The candidates were caught out by a new electoral rule - brought in after pressure from their own party.

The rule is designed to prevent voters from becoming confused by candidates standing under party names such as "Literal Democrat".

Thursday's High Court ruling means the Lib Dems have lost six seats on North London's knife-edge Harrow Borough Council before the campaign even begins.

Signed certificate

The party will have just three runners - all in Harrow Weald, a ward it already holds.

I take no satisfaction from the decision

Harrow returning officer
The 60 other nomination forms submitted by Liberal Democrats were ruled invalid by returning officer Gerald Balabanoff.

Lib Dem headquarters signed a certificate stating they would stand as Liberal Democrats.


But the 60 wrote instead that they were candidates for the Liberal Democrat Focus team, using the title of their campaigning newspaper.

The decision to bar them was taken under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act requiring parties to register their names.

Mr Balabanoff said: "I take no satisfaction from the decision and I wish it would have been possible to admit the nominations.

"However, as the judge made clear, the returning officer is obliged to comply with the election rules in a wholly impartial manner and this was how I acted."


A Lib Dem spokesman said: "We regret the court's decision."

The party can now only hope for a maximum of three seats on the council compared with nine at present.

This could be crucial to the overall outcome in an authority where Labour has a majority of just one seat.

See also:

11 Apr 02 | UK Politics
Labour's local election warning
08 Apr 02 | Sci/Tech
E-voting put to the test
02 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Call for 'local government revival'
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