BREAKING: Phil Woolas loses bid to overturn election court ban

The BBC reports:

Phil Woolas has lost his bid to overturn an election court’s ruling that stripped him of his Commons seat and barred him from politics.

He narrowly won his Oldham East and Saddleworth seat in May but the result was declared void by an election court over his conduct in the campaign.

He argued that the election court’s interpretation of the law was flawed.

But three High Court judges upheld the election court’s decision. If he does not appeal there will be a by-election.

Lord Justice Thomas, Mr Justice Tugendhat and Mrs Justice Nicola Davies said that, although Mr Woolas was entitled to have one of the findings against him set aside, there had been “illegal practice” by the former immigration minister.

Read the full report here.

The judgment is available in full here.

UPDATE – Liberal Democrat candidate for Oldham East and Saddleworth Elwyn Watkins has just released this statement:

This judgment makes it clear once again that if you knowingly lie in your election campaign and deceive your constituents you should be kicked out of parliament. This is a victory for the people of Oldham and Saddleworth.

Once again, I am grateful for the sterling work and support my excellent legal team have provided throughout and for the considered verdict of the High Court Judges.

Now it is time to move on and for the by-election to take place. The people of Oldham East and Saddleworth have been without an MP for long enough. They need to be able to choose a new Member of Parliament as soon as possible.

With just 103 votes between Labour and myself at the General Election, it is going to be a very close contest. I hope that local people will back someone who has a track record for standing up for what he believes in.

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25 Comments

  • UPDATE – Liberal Democrat candidate for Oldham East and Saddleworth Elwyn Watkins has just released this statement:

    This judgment makes it clear once again that if you knowingly lie in your election campaign and deceive your constituents you should be kicked out of parliament

    Forgive me, but I couldn’t help chuckling.

  • Well said Nathan.

    Now – what size the new Labour majority in Oldham after the by-election?

  • paul barker 3rd Dec '10 - 1:32pm

    Our Regional Conference in London has been cancelled with less than a days notice as the venue, a local school has pulled out fearing it would be trashed by rioters. Lets get this straight – a Democratic Meeting called off because of the Threat of violence. The name for that is Faschism.
    All our MPs should now vote for the Fees rise next thursday, voting against, even abstention would be giving in to violence & a betrayal of Democracy.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 1:52pm

    “The name for that is Faschism.
    All our MPs should now vote for the Fees rise next thursday, voting against, even abstention would be giving in to violence & a betrayal of Democracy.”

    Beyond parody.

  • Any news on whether the Labour Party has suspended the other party members who helped draft the illegal election leaflets? Cllr Batty made these same false allegations, but remains a labour councillor. And his agent is scot-free.

  • Paul B
    Not one of your most sensible comments.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 2:17pm

    “This judgment makes it clear once again that if you knowingly lie in your election campaign and deceive your constituents you should be kicked out of parliament.”

    It really is surprising he didn’t word his comment more carefully in the circumstances.

    Of course, there’s no law against politicians lying in general – obviously that would never have got through parliament. It’s a very specific kind of lie about your opponents that is prohibited.

  • coldcomfort 3rd Dec '10 - 2:51pm

    Anthony Aloysius St and others with similar posts just freeze the mind. Labours Phil Woolas & David Chaytor committed criminal acts. Lib Dem candidates made a promise which has now been broken, foolish perhaps but not criminal. If Aloysius & Co can’t recognise the difference they need serious help and since Phil Woolas at least appears unrepentant it is the ethics of the Labour Party & its supporters that need lambasting. Moreover when it comes to breaking campaign promises the Labour Party are the true experts, the Lib Dems mere amateurs.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 2:58pm

    coldcomfort

    Read it again.

  • david thorpe 3rd Dec '10 - 3:27pm

    nathan

    the difference between what woolas did, and what candidates from other partiwes do is that woolas committed the offence of criminal libel, and lied about his opponents.
    You may argue that lib dem mps lied to their constituents over fees, we will see how that pans out, but thats a matter for their consituents, woolas lied about someone else’s intentuions not his own, and thats criminal libel/slander and a very different matter

    Let battle commence

  • coldcomfort 3rd Dec '10 - 3:47pm

    I suggest that a number of your posters, especially Matt, take their own advice.

  • To be honest, considering the cheques Lib Dems have been writing to their electorates for decades now, we should be amazed if the only promise they can’t keep is to vote against tuition fee rises. Politicians have been struggling to keep their promises for as long as there’s been politics, intentionally creating rumours about your opponents is another thing entirely, and Parliament will be better off without Woolas.

  • “is that woolas committed the offence of criminal libel,”

    He didn’t. That offence was abolished earlier this year and he was tried for the breach of some completely different law.

  • Tony Dawson 3rd Dec '10 - 10:29pm

    How does Alec MacPh think that Jenny Tonge has ever said anything ‘libellous’ about Israel?

    (a) something you say (as opposed to write) which is defamatory is slanderous, not libellous

    (b) You cannot libel a country

    (c) What has Jenny Tonge ever said about Israel which is defamatory? (She’s a Baroness, not a Lord!)

    Hywel is right about ‘Criminal libel’ although what Phil Woolas’ campaign said about Elwyn was both criminal and libellous.

  • allentaylorhoad 3rd Dec '10 - 10:59pm

    “if you knowingly lie in your election campaign and deceive your constituents you should be kicked out of parliament.”
    “With just 103 votes between Labour and myself at the General Election, it is going to be a very close contest.”

    You have to hand it to Elwyn, he has a great sense of humour. No Liberal Democrat would ever deceive his or her constituents, and it will indeed be such a close call in the by-election – as to whether Elwyn saves his deposit!

  • david thorpe 4th Dec '10 - 12:27pm

    @ alex

    if any lib dem is found to have committed a criminal act, including criminal libel, then yes they should have the whip remioved and be expelled from the party, have any been found to have committed such an act, has any individual pursued baroness tonge for her comments, ahs any ‘victim’ of her alleged libel come forward.

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