06:02 Friday 10 January 2014

Activists call for Conservative candidate selection to be reopened amid 'doubt' over Lucy Frazer's win in South East Cambridgeshire


Conservative activists have called for their parliamentary candidate selection to be restarted after it was claimed a miscount meant the wrong winner was announced.

One long-serving activist said there was “reasonable doubt” about the way Lucy Frazer was picked to bid to succeed Sir Jim Paice in South East Cambridgeshire after the News revealed allegations that ballot papers supporting runner-up Heidi Allen had been incorrectly allocated to the eventual winner.

The suspected error emerged when a party member who had taken the ballot papers home from the open primary decided to recount them.

South East Cambridgeshire Conservative Association has now revealed this member was in fact the presiding officer of the count, and the agent for the neighbouring West Suffolk association, Paula Wade.

Peter Cresswell, the South East Cambridgeshire chairman, said Cllr Wade had declined to share the ballot papers with members of the executive until yesterday, when she said they would be available for viewing at her office in Exning between 9am and 9pm.

Mr Cresswell said he “did not know” whether members would take this offer up, because so much time had elapsed since the primary last month.

A meeting tonight will decide Ms Frazer’s fate.

Former district councillor Colin Barker, of Newmarket Road, Teversham, said: “With the best gloss on it, there is reasonable doubt on this result. As a party we stand for democracy, honesty and justice and, if the party doesn’t reopen the open primary, it is throwing its principles out of the window.”

Mr Cresswell said he thought Ms Frazer would be an “ideal candidate” but added the meeting tonight would give members a chance to have their say.

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