Cornwall MP Sheryll Murray's cat in vote rigging scandal
UPDATE: A statement released by the office of Sheryll Murray confirmed Bosun has been pulled out of the competition.
Sheryll Murray MP said, “This whole situation has been very upsetting. I entered Bosun as a bit of fun to promote the good work of Battersea Dogs and Cats home. Bosun is a much loved family pet who is now 14 years old.
"He was named by my late husband who was a fisherman – hence the name. One of my staff, out of working hours, set up a website, done some social media and even produced a few leaflets.
"I entered Bosun before the recent storms but unfortunately Labour have decided to make this political and I have decided to withdraw him as I have to concentrate on the many storm affected areas in my constituency.”
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In a further statement from Bosun’s campaign they said: “At no point did the campaign set up an ‘automated algorithm’ as alleged by others.
"Neither Sheryll Murray or her office know who did or how this was done. Battersea Dogs and Cats home have already said that there have been a lot of voting irregularities with many candidates and we do not know if this instance was by a well meaning supporter of Bosun’s or someone who was trying to frame him.
"It does seem to have been a bit obvious.
“It was also alleged that Bosun claimed all these votes came from Australia. He, to his knowledge, got one vote from Australia from an ex-pat and a family member.
“I do not want to distract from the important work that Battersea Dogs and Cats home does and I know Sheryll is keen to focus on her constituents who have been so badly affected by storms so have therefore decided to withdraw.
“I would like to wish the others cats the best of luck in particular Monty Tomlinson and Parsnip.”
EARLIER: MP Sheryll Murray's cat is at the centre of a vote-rigging scandal.
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home is running an online Purr Minister competition to raise funds by finding the prettiest pet in Parliament.
But somehow the South East Cornwall MP's cat attracted 30,000 votes in seven hours.
That is more than 70% of all votes cast.
Labour’s Andrew Gwynne has withdrawn his pet Jude in protest.
He told The Mirror: "I think there has been vote-rigging. It is not fair – it is against the spirit of it."
Conservative MP Ms Murray, who lives in Looe, will speak to organisers today and decide what to do about the poll, which closes on Thursday.
The charity told the national newspaper: "We will look carefully at how people can vote next year."