Election court agrees to examine Oldham East slur leaflet

As we reported last month the Liberal Democrat candidate for Oldham East and Saddleworth was petitioning for a hearing of an election court, alleging a breach of the Representation of the People Act (1983).

The BBC now reports:

A court is to examine claims that a Labour Party election leaflet from former minister Phil Woolas linked an opponent to Muslim “extremists”.

An election court has agreed to hear the case brought by Liberal Democrat candidate Elwyn Watkins.

He claims Labour falsely portrayed him as taking “illegal” foreign donations.

The court could order a fresh election in the Oldham East and Saddleworth seat, which Mr Woolas won in May by just 103 votes and after two recounts.

Mr Watkins believes a Labour election leaflet portrayed him as courting votes from militant Muslims.

The leaflet was headlined: “Watkins accused of wooing extremist vote.”

Elwyn Watkins, Liberal Democrat candidate for Oldham East and Saddleworth in the 2010 General Election said,

I’m looking forward to the legal case, where I’ll be able to show my good character and I’ll be able to show that what was said is completely wrong.

You can hint and suggest things that put a question mark in people’s minds.

If I’d read those leaflets I don’t think I’d have voted for myself if I thought they were half-true.

You can read the full report here.

If the court orders a rerun of the Parliamentary election due to corruption, this will be the first time this has happened since 1911. (The Winchester election rerun of 1997 was due to a technicality.)

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This entry was posted in Election law.
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