An attempt to unseat the Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has been thrown out by the High Court after two judges ruled that legal documents informing her of the action were sent to the wrong address.
Lawyers acting for Ms Dorries, who was re-elected as the MP for Mid Bedfordshire at the general election, successfully argued at a hearing in London that the election petition sent to her constituency’s Conservative Association last month was invalid and should be struck out.
The legal action was lodged by Tim Ireland, a political blogger who stood against Ms Dorries as an independent candidate. It alleged that she had broken electoral law by accusing him of being a stalker and a “dangerous criminal” in the run-up to the poll on 7 May.
But in their ruling, Mr Justice Jeremy Baker and Mr Justice Andrew Popplewell agreed that Mr Ireland’s solicitors had not given Ms Dorries proper notice of the claim, which according to the rules should have been sent to her personal address. Attempts to find out where she lived were “inadequate”, they said.
Ms Dorries described the Conservative Association office in Shefford as a “small office staffed by volunteers” which was only open on Monday mornings, the court heard. She was in London when the legal documents arrived and consequently did not receive them until several days later, after they were forwarded by her personal assistant.
Most memorable I'm A Celebrity moments
Most memorable I'm A Celebrity moments
1/9 Peter Andrew and Katie 'Jordan' Price's jungle romance
Arguably what I'm A Celeb is most famous for – the hot fling between the Barbie and Ken of the jungle. The gossip mags went crazy for these two, not to mention their duet of 'A Whole New World' from Aladdin. They married a year later, had two children Princess and Junior and divorced in 2009.
2/9 Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts teaching Rosemary Shrager and Colin Baker the 'Don't Cha' routine
It was a bizarre, awkward sight to behold, but an entertaining one nonetheless.
3/9 Johnny Rotten quits the jungle and demands respect
Sex Pistol Johnny Rotten called viewers 'f**king c***s' after they failed to vote him off the show. He was warned by producers after TV regulator Ofcom received 91 complaints about his behaviour. Shortly after his outburst, Rotton quit the show, and saw sales of his band's classic album Never Mind the Bollocks rocket. The classic I'm A Celeb effect.
4/9 Gillian McKeith fainting at the prospect of another Bushtucker Trial
On discovering she was up for another bush tucker trial, You Are What You Eat presenter Gillian dramatically 'fainted' for a second time, prompting Shaun Ryder to insist she win an Oscar for her performance. 'There’s no way I'm going to eat a penis' she said, defiantly, when served up some crocodile bits for dinner.
5/9 Rosemary Shrager farting on her first night
The TV chef was trapped in a scary hut with Eighties pop star Kimahl when she let out a fart of fear, and a seemingly never-ending one at that. 'Oh go for it, oh that's a good one,' he said, trying to make light of the awkward situation before making everything worse and suggesting they 'high five on the fart'.
6/9 Helen Flanagan having a general nightmare
Former Corrie star Helen Flanagan had a shocker on the show, failing to bring back stars for her campmates multiple times before surprising them all and bringing back all 12
7/9 Nadine Dorries going into the jungle in the first place
The Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire attracted a huge amount of criticism (and a lot of support) for bringing politics to I'm A Celebrity. She was temporarily suspended by the party over her decision to take part in the show without informing the Chief Whip.
8/9 Peter Andre creates a word that goes onto become his next single
Remember 'Insania'? Pete was super excited when this marvel popped into his reality TV-tuned brain and hey presto, a top three hit was born. In-sa-ni-a.
9/9 Pretty much any scene involving Ant and Dec
To put it simply, I'm A Celebrity would be nothing without this cheeky duo.
Gavin Millar QC, acting for Ms Dorries, told the court that Mr Ireland’s solicitors had been labouring under the “misapprehension” that the election petition could be served on a place of work. “It seems to us that a straightforward error was made by the petitioner’s solicitor,” he said.
Mr Ireland, who is now facing a significant bill for legal costs, said in a series of Tweets following the ruling: “The High Court did not reject the body of my allegations against Nadine Dorries. They nullified a petition raising them on a technicality. What Nadine Dorries did today was successfully prevent my allegations against her being heard and her allegations against me being tested.”
Clifford Chance, the law firm representing Ms Dorries, issued a statement which read: “This petition was part of Mr Ireland’s continued campaign of harassment against our client. Our client believes that the petition was maliciously brought and had no merit. We are pleased that the right outcome, namely dismissal of the petition, was achieved.
“Our client was elected with a very clear majority and, with this petition now dismissed (and with the petitioner not having sought to appeal) she can continue with her job of representing the people of Mid-Bedfordshire.”