Looking more closely at the Sunday Sun article, I would like to bring readers attention to a quote from South Tyneside Council.
“The returning officer is pleased that the court dismissed Mr Khan’s applications and ordered Mr Khan to pay the costs of the proceedings.
It is to be hoped that this is now the end of these proceedings and so avoid any further costs”
Firstly, let’s look at some FACTS
1. The Council make no reference to the fact that they have LOST 18 ballot boxes, amongst them the disputed votes.
2. They make no APOLOGIES for breaking the public’s trust in the election process.
3. They make no reference to the fact that they KNEW the boxes were missing at the LATEST 72 hours after the election.
4. They make NO reference to the fact that they withheld this information from the public for nearly SIX months
5. They make NO reference to the fact that they failed to inform Mr Khan of the loss immediately, thereby allowing him to UNKNOWINGLY accumulate nearly six months of legal bills.
6. Despite the fact that they KNEW they had lost the boxes, the Council allowed six months of THEIR own legal bills to accumulate, money which belongs to the TAX PAYER.
Despite all these discrepancies, the Council is “PLEASED” that Mr Khan has been asked to pay costs. There would have been NO costs for all parties if the Council had been honest and open in its approach. If they are prepared to hide the fact that 18 ballot boxes went missing under their control, what else have they not told us?
The public must now ask themselves 6 very serious questions:
1. Why did the Council not come clean as to their ineptitude sooner?
2. Who allowed the ballot boxes to disappear?
3. Why were they stored in a corridor and not under dual control?
4. Why did they let Mr Khan accumulate legal bills?
5. Why did they continue to spend tax payer’s money when they knew they had lost the votes?
6. Why are they seeking costs when the blame is theirs and theirs alone?
With an internal probe currently going on into the use of Council facilities to make fraudulent claims on local web sites, the Borough is further shamed by possible criminal activity in the destruction of ballot box contents. Further, the Council has embarked on a path that could theoretically financially ruin a member of it’s electorate who merely pursued one of the most sacrosanct principals of the democratic programme; the security and infallibility of the system under which we cast our vote.
The only comment from the Council? It is “pleased”. Sadly, this is endemic of the attitude of those who govern this Borough at executive level.
Today is a very poor day for both South Tyneside and for the democratic process.