Birmingham City Council leader Mike Whitby is considering a legal challenge over a shock Birmingham local election result which saw two ballot boxes go missing and two arrests made.
The Conservative chief claimed the election night fiasco did nothing to help Birmingham’s reputation after the city was shamed over an unconnected vote fraud several years ago that a judge said would “shame a banana republic”.
Harborne, one of the safer Conservative wards in the city, was won by Labour councillor James McKay by a surprising 584 majority in the May elections.
But the result was held up after an election official went missing with two ballot boxes, which had allegedly been tampered with when she returned.
Coun Whitby, himself a Harborne councillor, said: “We have an exceptional result, boxes went missing for two-and-a-half-hours, the official couldn’t be reached by mobile phone, and when the boxes were finally found the seals had been broken.
“If that does not challenge the integrity of the result I don’t know what does.
“It was a set of circumstances so dazzling it would overshadow a rainbow.
“This is the largest authority in the UK and we cannot allow this result to be left open to question.”
Responding to suggestions he had kept a low profile following his worst election results as Birmingham’s Conservative group leader, Coun Whitby said he had been detained at the Harborne count until 5am and had been unable to face the media.
He said: “After that I took the decision to speak only to my colleagues until after our annual Conservative group meeting.
“I am not afraid of the press. I relish the relationship, sometimes its feisty but I have no problem with criticism.”
Coun Whitby said he was being updated on a council investigation into the Harborne result and he would decide whether to issue a formal challenge.
Police arrested and bailed an 82-year-old woman and a man aged 52 in connection with the ballot box allegations.