The Liberal Democrats have won the Leyton by-election by a huge majority.

Winnie Smith polled 1360 votes, while her nearest rival, Khevyn Limbajee for Labour, won 695.

Carole Vincent, Respect supporter, came in third with 176 votes, followed by Conservative Edwin Northover on 108.

The Green Party, represented by Bill Measure, came in last with 90 votes.

The ward is back under complete Lib Dem control after the surprise victory for Labour candidate Miranda Grell In 2006.

Grell was banned from office following the failure of an appeal against her conviction for slurring election rival Barry Smith during the election campaign.

Lib Dem joy at the result will be tempered by thoughts for Mr Smith, who was hounded out of the borough as a result of Grell's false claims that he had an underage boyfriend.

Winnie Smith, who is no relation to Barry, appeared to be emotional after her victory was announced and did not know what to say when asked for a comment.

But Lib Dem group leader Keith Rayner said: "I think Winnie would like to say that she is very pleased to be the third member for the Liberal Democrats in this ward.

"A lot of people were interested in seeing justice for Leyton, and in electing Winnie Smith they have ensured that."

Cllr Rayner was making a veiled reference to Miss Grell's failed campaign to clear her name, which she called Justice For Leyton Ward.

Local Labour supporters will be left wondering why the party cannnot succeed in one of Waltham Forest's poorest wards.

The size of the victory will have surprised many. Miss Grell beat her Lib Dem rival by 28 votes in 2006.

Respect supporter Carole Vincent was delighted to have finished third in the election.

She said: "I am very chuffed, I enjoyed it and I would like to thank every single person who voted for me.

"This shows that people want something different, 176 people voted for change.

"As Labour and the Lib Dems are sharing power, this result means Respect are the official opposition!" she joked.

Conservative group leader Matt Davis gleefully described the heavy Labour defeat as a "Valentine's Day massacre".

11.28PM: The spoilt ballot papers have been checked and agreed by all candidates.

11.03PM: The count appears to be coming to a close and a hush has descended on the candidates and their supporters.10:49PM: Carole Vincent is watching the count anxiously.

The former Big Brother star is standing as a Respect supporter.

She said: "This is not a gameshow, it is serious.

"Whatever happens we have mounted a challenge to the Lib/Lab pact.

"We would like to win but if we don't, I would like to thank everyone who supported us. People want change."

10.44PM:The turnout is 27.75 per cent, lower than the 37.6 per cent that voted in 2006.

This is expected as 2006 was more high-profile as the whole of London was voting in local elections.

10.20PM: The candidates have started to arrive at the Score building and are anxiously awaiting the beginning of the count.

Conservative candidate Edwin Northover said he knows he cannot win the seat but is aiming to increase the Conservative share of the vote.

He said: "Last time our share was 5.9 per cent - our fifth worst in the whole of London.

"But people have reacted to us positively and I think we can increase it."

Labour candidate and journalist Khevyn Limbajee would not be drawn on whether he can win, he said: "We will see how the count goes, but people have been extremely friendly towards me."

10.00PM: Polls have just closed in the Leyton by-election.

Electors in the ward are selecting a councillor for the seat vacated by Miranda Grell. Ms Grell was forced to relinquish her seat after being found guilty of falsely alleging a rival was a peadophile in the 2006 local election.

Five candidates are now nervously waiting for the count to start.

The winner will be announced at the Score building, in Oliver Road, later tonight.