THE Liberal Democrats have won back a Brent Council seat in tonight's by-election, fighting off a strong challenge from Labour.

Candidate Afifa Pervez won 1195 votes and was elected to represent Wembley Central ward on the councillor.

Labour's Jayesh Mistry came in second place with 934 votes, Tory Yasmin Butt won 423 votes, Independent Tom Stevens put up a strong showing with 240, and Martin Francis the Green Party candidate came fifth.

Speaking after her election, Ms Pervez thanked the team which had helped her to victory.

She said: “This was a very strong team effort, and I'm here because of the hard work of my focus team.

“It's a very pleasing result, and I'm here to serve the people. I'm a public servant and I want to work with all my residents.”

The results, on a 29.28 per cent turnout, were especially positive for the Conservatives, who although coming in third, saw a 2.8 per cent rise in their share of the vote compared with 2006 election results in the ward.

Lib Dems in contrast lost 5.7 per cent of their share and Labour had an even sharper drop, haemorrhaging 7.7 per cent of their votes.

The great and the good of Brent politics turned out for tonight's count at Brent Town Hall, and were still around for the result, which was announced at around 12.15am.

The Lib Dems had previously held the seat until midway through last year when Councillor Vijah Shah was arrested on suspicion of fraud and booted out of the party.

The by-election was triggered after Shah received a year-long prison term for his embezzlement, and the result shows that the Lib Dems managed to put the scandal behind them.

Labour activists said they were not too downhearted by the showing from their candidate, but suffered from a backlash to the struggling fortunes of the Government and the recent expenses revelations for the two Labour MPs in Brent.