Monday, 29 October 2007


Those of us who follow local politics will remember the disturbing case of the Beacon and Bent’s ward election this year when marginally beaten Independent candidate Ahmed Khan felt that all was not right with a series of rejected ballot papers. Mr Khan correspondingly lodged a series of petitions at the High Court in London, asking that the ballot papers, rejected on the night, be re-examined.

Nearly five months down the line and with no further press coverage, many have assumed that the issue has “gone away”. However, such an assertion does great disservice to the tenacity and sense of civic duty that characterises Mr Khan. Tucked away in a little corner of Saturday’s Shields Gazette was the news that the case is to be heard on MONDAY 12 NOVEMBER 2007 at NEWCASTLE COUNTY COURT.

This will be a very interesting case. Mr Khan is seeking access to these votes. The Council has them securely locked away under lock and key (as the law requires them to do) and is refusing the right for them to be examined. With both sides reaching an impasse, the legal arguments will be very interesting. I shall certainly be going to the court to sit in the public gallery, and I would recommend that those who have the time also do so for two reasons. Firstly, it will be very exciting! Secondly, and more pertinent, it will be an opportunity to see the concept of “democracy” pushed to the limit. Mr Khan’s position is clear; all he wants to do is examine the rejected votes to ensure the validity of them not being counted. South Tyneside’s position does cause some puzzlement. Why don’t they just let the votes be examined under duel access, and depending on the outcome, take the matter forward as required? Why go to court for a public hearing with all the costs that are involved. Hopefully, they will bring the disputed votes with them and the matter can be brought to a satisfactory conclusion on the day.

I will post closer to the dates and times etc, but as a public spectacle, it will be a unique experience worthy of national attention.

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