Election smear campaign: Allegations against Nadine Dorries MP to be heard in the High Court today

EDITORIAL USE ONLY / NO MERCHANDISING'Mandatory Credit: Photo by ITV/REX (1950804bg)'Nadine Dorries''I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!' TV Programme, Australia - Nov 2012'I'm A Celebrity?Get Me Out Of Here! is back which can mean only one thing? the time has come for a brand new cast of celebrities to head down under and battle it out in TV's toughest challenge.'
EDITORIAL USE ONLY / NO MERCHANDISING'Mandatory Credit: Photo by ITV/REX (1950804bg)'Nadine Dorries''I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!' TV Programme, Australia - Nov 2012'I'm A Celebrity?Get Me Out Of Here! is back which can mean only one thing? the time has come for a brand new cast of celebrities to head down under and battle it out in TV's toughest challenge.'

The case of an alleged smear campaign involving Nadine Dorries MP is in the High Court today.

Rival Independent candidate Tim Ireland lodged an election petition against Ms Dorries in May.

The case will be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice in London before Mr Justice Jeremy Baker and Mr Justice Popplewell at a special election court hearing this afternoon.

The MP for Mid Bedfordshire, who won with a 23,327 majority, could have May’s election result overturned if found guilty.

Mr Ireland claims that Ms Dorries made several attempts to smear his reputation in the run up to the election, and distributed printed election material which did not clearly include the name and address of the printer and publisher.

On May 7, Mr Ireland secured 384 votes - a 0.7 per cent share of the vote.

A spokesman for the Election Petition Office at the Royal Courts of Justice said: “An election petition was lodged against Nadine Dorries by Tim Ireland on May 28.

“In cases such as this, the petitioner must state their case to the court within 21 days of election results being announced. The court provides them with a copy of the petition. It is then the responsibility of the petitioner to serve that copy to the person.

“Tim Ireland did this, and the court gave him copies to serve Nadine Dorries. A certificate of service was received by the court on June 4.”

The spokesman added: “It is now up to the petitioner to apply to the court for a trial date.”

The initial cost of lodging an election petition can be around £5,500 but costs can spiral once a trial begins, to cover the expense of a legal team