Second recount under way in Perry Barr amid claims of fraudulent voting

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Indy Politics

A second recount of votes cast at the council elections on Thursday was under way in the Birmingham ward of Perry Barr last night amid claims of fraudulent voting in the city.

A second recount of votes cast at the council elections on Thursday was under way in the Birmingham ward of Perry Barr last night amid claims of fraudulent voting in the city.

Liberal Democrat councillors say they will mount a legal challenge to the result in as many as six wards following allegations of widespread vote rigging in Birmingham.

Postmen were said to have been offered more than £500 to hand over sacks full of blank postal voting forms and last week a newly elected Labour councillor was found with bundles of completed ballot papers in his car, although he was later cleared by police of any wrongdoing.

A first recount of the votes cast in Perry Barr, usually regarded as a Liberal Democrat stronghold, was abandoned on Friday night. Electoral officials took the unusual step of ordering a second recount at the National Indoor Arena.

The leader of the Liberal Democrats in Birmingham, John Hemmings, said he believed his party may have lost up to 15 seats through fraud.

He said: "People are saying that Labour have done well in Birmingham and this city has bucked the national trend. But in reality the political system has been tarnished. Several of my councillors and candidates feel cheated. A legal challenge will be started, funded by people within the community."

Liberal Democrats in the city launched a similar legal action after an election result two years ago when hundreds of votes were allegedly cast by people who were either dead, abroad or in prison. On that occasion the case was rejected by the High Court in London on a legal technicality.

The group leader of Labour, Sir Albert Bore, criticised Mr Hemming, saying that the election was carried out in accordance with existing guidelines. But he acknowledged that he was "not comfortable" with some practices allowed by current Electoral Commission guidelines. "There is a need for an immediate review of postal arrangements," he said.

West Midlands police began a fraud investigation on Friday after 16 requests were received for postal ballot forms for a single address in the Sparkhill area of the city.

No party has overall control of the council in Birmingham following last week's elections.

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