Lib Dems consider legal challenge after two-vote defeat in North East Fife

Elizabeth Riches (LIb Dem) addresses the hall after a hair's-breadth loss to Stephen Gethins of the SNP, who retained the North East Fife seat for the SNP in the General Election (picture by George McLuskie)
Elizabeth Riches (LIb Dem) addresses the hall after a hair's-breadth loss to Stephen Gethins of the SNP, who retained the North East Fife seat for the SNP in the General Election (picture by George McLuskie)
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Defeated Westminster candidate Elizabeth Riches and her Liberal Democrat colleagues are still contemplating legal advice over whether to mount a challenge to Friday morning’s dramatic General Election result in North East Fife.

The veteran former East Neuk councillor was beaten into second place by the tiny margin of two votes against sitting MP Stephen Gethins, of the Scottish National Party.

The first count of the poll had put Mrs Riches ahead by three votes – but then they were recounted three times, with the first of these recounts placing Mrs Riches ahead by two votes, but the second and third recounts both giving Mr Gethins the advantage, by two votes.

Mrs Riches said the Liberal Democrats would wait and see what legal advice they received before deciding if they would oppose or accept the verdict.

“We are very collaborative as a party and it will be a decision that we make together,” she said. “We are taking legal advice.

“We stick by where we were – we asked for a recount and logically thought that’s what should happen.”

The former deputy leader of Fife Council added: “I think we had a 26-hour day. For the staff doing all the counting, they were very tired at the end and they made the point themselves – the more times the votes were counted, the stickier they became and the harder it was to be accurate in their counting.”

Mrs Riches said she knew the poll would be extremely close from campaigning on the streets and the public’s reaction to various matters.

“In all the elections I’ve been involed in, this is the one where the public were most engaged,” she said. “They wanted to discuss the issues and knew none of them were straightforward.”