Woolas trial: court delays verdict

Lib Dem Voice can reveal that the rare Election Petition Court which was held in Uppermill for the constituency of Oldham East and Saddleworth earlier in September will be delayed in giving its verdict.

Mr Justice Nigel Teale, one of the two High Court judges hearing the case, originally indicated that they would give their verdict sometime in mid-October.

Helen Mountfield QC asked whether there was a likelihood of a verdict at the end of the week of giving evidence, but Mr Justice Teale made plain in the politest and firmest way that neither he nor Mr Justice Griffith Williams, the other judge in this case, were going to be hurried in making their judgement.

Under the Representation of the People Act 1983 both judges must now go away to write either a single report or separate reports if they disagree on the trial and then separate reports are then presented to Parliament. The significance of a separate report is that if the judges disagree then the Phil Woolas is acquitted. This trial is unusual in that it is a criminal case so has a criminal burden of proof but two judges sit without the benefit of a jury.

The most likely time now for a verdict to be made is sometime toward the end of October according to sources at Oldham Council but frustratingly for all concerned this is by no means guaranteed. Mr Elwyn Watkins and Phil Woolas will have to wait a little longer to find out the outcome of this fascinating trial on which so much depends for both men.

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7 Comments

  • Urch, does that mean you’re stuck there mate?
    Annoying that if one judge would convict and one judge would acquit then Woolas is acquitted…

  • There were a number of alleged offences being discussed. What would happen in the unlikely event that each judge agreed guilt but on different offences? It would seem to me that he’d be acquitted on all charges then. I can’t imagine that being a likely outcome, but it’d be … interesting.

    Isn’t the Chaytor trial starting soon? I believe it’s the same defending QC and solicitor for all the Labour … incidents.

  • James Moore 7th Oct '10 - 10:33pm

    There are many other issues Woolas did while minister that should be looked into, such as the treatment of the children of female British citizens who were made to pay fees in order to update their travel documents as their right to work required upto date documentations and fees even though they were tax payers!

  • “Annoying that if one judge would convict and one judge would acquit then Woolas is acquitted…”

    No it bloody well isn’t!

  • Grammar Police 8th Oct '10 - 8:10am

    @ Helen – Gavin Millar? He’s related to Fiona Millar, Alastair Cambell’s partner, I think. And a Labour councillor too.

  • I didn’t know he was a Labour councillor. He wasn’t very impressive in the Woolas trial – he didn’t seem to have a good grasp of all the documents. Though it was quite funny when he was asking Woolas questions and he seemed so irritated that Woolas was refusing to give a straight answer to any of the question that he seemed to be treating his own client as a hostile witness!

  • @Grammar Police
    He WAS a Labour councillor – on the City of Westminster – and he IS Campbell’s brother in law. And I agree with Helen on his questioning of Woolas. There were times when the honorable member for Oldham East & Saddleworth was avoiding questions from his own QC.

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