THE Tory candidate for the Tiverton & Honiton by-election reportedly “locked herself in the dance studio” of the sports centre as the count took place early on Friday morning.

The Tories lost the safe Devon seat – vacated after Neil Parish’s porn-watching scandal – with the LibDems overturning their majority on a nearly 30% swing.

After the polls closed on Thursday, it was expected that the LibDems would be victorious. And as the count continued into the early hours, it was reported that the Conservative pick for the by-election had locked herself into a room at Crediton sports centre and was refusing to speak to journalists.

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LBC journalist Theo Usherwood announced on Twitter: “The Tory candidate Helen Hurford in the Tiverton by election has just locked herself in the dance studio at Crediton sports centre.”

Following the Tory loss, the newly elected LibDem MP Richard Foord took the opportunity to criticise Hurford’s approach to the campaign. She was criticised for her lack of visibility and for refusing many media appearances.

Asked if her approach had been an issue for voters in Tiverton and Honiton, Foord said: “The Conservatives will fight their campaigns in the way they see fit, but we in the Liberal Democrats we’ve fought a very positive campaign, we’ve fought a campaign that’s set out our stall rather than pointing to any downsides or shortcomings of the Conservative campaign.”

Foord continued: “But I do think that people have looked at the national picture and I do indeed think people have looked at Boris Johnson as Prime Minister and have decided to send a message that rural places like Tiverton and Honiton won’t be taken for granted any longer.”

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Foord also described his victory as “absolutely staggering”.

Speaking just after the vote was declared, he said: “This result is absolutely staggering, we weren’t expecting a win, let alone a win of this scale.”

Foord added: “We have been noticing that momentum has been shifting from the Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats over the course of this campaign and particularly in recent days because of the very positive agenda we were setting out.

“But this is absolutely seismic and we have overturned the biggest majority in parliamentary by-election history and it really sent a very clear message to this Government.”