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Lucy Frazer faces uncertain future as South East Cambridgeshire Conservative candidate amid claim miscount meant Heidi Allen was real winner of primary

By Cambridge News  |  Posted: January 07, 2014

  • Heidi Allen, who stood to be Conservative Candidate for the South East Cambridgeshire seat

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Conservatives have been rocked by bombshell claims that the wrong candidate was announced as the winner of a parliamentary selection primary.

The real winner of last month’s vote to find a prospective MP to succeed retiring Sir Jim Paice in South East Cambridgeshire was businesswoman Heidi Allen, not barrister Lucy Frazer, activists have claimed.

A meeting of the local party has been called for Friday to decide whether to confirm Ms Frazer as the candidate.

The complaints focus on allegations that ballots for Ms Allen were incorrectly allocated to Ms Frazer, according to two sources.

The News has been told that in the, third, final round of voting between the pair, a pile of 25 votes was marked as being for Ms Frazer, when in fact only the top two papers were – with the rest being for Ms Allen.

Ms Frazer was subsequently announced as the winner and, while the numbers were not announced at the primary, the News understands this was on a margin of 84 to 48.

If 23 of Ms Frazer’s votes were actually due to Ms Allen, Ms Allen would have won by 71 to 61.

It is thought the alleged error was discovered after an activist who took the ballot papers home from the primary decided to recount them.

A letter to local members from association president Brian Ashton, seen by the News, said: “Although the original count took place in the normal way and was witnessed by others, during the following week unsubstantiatable suggestions were made to officers that the ballot result announced at that meeting was incorrect.

“Given that no-one else was present when the ballot papers were recounted, your officers are not able to verify beyond doubt the validity of these claims.”

Ms Frazer’s victory surprised some members because Ms Allen allegedly received in excess of 60 votes during the first two rounds of voting, when Charlotte Vere and Paul Bristow were eliminated from contention.

One member, who asked not to be named, said: “We have no option but to declare the result null and void, and to start again. It is the only right thing to do.”

Local and national party officials have not commented on the specific allegations but, in a sign of how seriously they are being taken, Friday’s meeting will be attended by national nominating officer Alan Mabbutt and head of candidates Gareth Fox.

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “This is an internal party matter which is currently being investigated.”

When awards go wrong

– In 2007, Sir Terry Wogan announced the wrong winner of the public vote to find the UK’s song for Eurovision

– Ant and Dec were presented with the people’s choice trophy at the 2005 British Comedy Awards, after pop star Robbie Williams agreed to present the prize on condition the duo won it – but the BBC’s Catherine Tate Show had actually got more votes

– Pop star Katy Perry was wrongly handed one of the main prizes at a music awards ceremony in France in 2009, which was intended for Rihanna

– The wrong ‘Frank’ picked up the best director prize at the 1933 Oscars, after cowboy movie star Will Rogers failed to announce the winner’s full name – Frank Capra stood up instead of Frank Lloyd

- In 2010, the host of TV show Australia’s Next Top Model made headlines around the world when she announced the wrong finalist had wonA

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