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New Legal Setback For Woolas

Phil Woolas (left) and Gerald Shamash speak to the media after Friday's verdict.

Former Saddleworth MP Phil Woolas has suffered a serious blow in his attempt to force a judicial review of the election court case. A High Court judge today decided that such a review was not the correct legal method to challenge the verdict.

That verdict, delivered on Friday at Uppermill Civic Hall, found Mr Woolas guilty of breaking election law by knowingly lying about his Liberal Democrat opponent in campaign leaflets. He was stripped of his victory in May’s general election, and given a three-year ban from holding public office.

His solicitor, Gerald Shamash, today promised to fight on saying that a new request for a judicial review would be lodged. The Press Association quoted him as saying: “The judge decided that judicial review was not the appropriate course. We say it is and we think he has got it wrong.”

It’s not clear when the new application for a review will be heard, although it must be lodged within the next four days. Mr Woolas, who was suspended by the Labour Party following Friday’s verdict, has already been told he won’t be welcome back in the party in future, regardless of the outcome of any review.

Meanwhile, there has been some support for the former Immigration Minister from two well-known Labour figures. Manchester Blackley MP Graham Stringer said he thought his ex-colleague had been “hung out to dry” by the party, while former Labour General Secretary Peter Watt described the party’s treatment of Mr Woolas as “nothing short of disgraceful.”

You can read more about the decision to block the judicial review from PA and the Guardian here. There’s more about Mr Stringer’s comments at the BBC website here, while Mr Watt’s article can be read on the Labour Uncut site here.

You can read about the full background to the case from Saddleworth News here.

4 Comments

  • Julie says:

    I have been a Labour voter all my life but in this case I say Good Riddance to the man! he has disgraced himself, his family and his political party.

  • carl says:

    Does this mean that all politicians are not allowed to lie any more ?

  • Glittery Delpher says:

    It’s not quite over yet, Julie. He can still apply for another judicial review or an appeal.

    And then we’ve got the potential Meacher trial to look forward to… perhaps Meacher can call Woolas as a witness!

  • Glittery Delpher says:

    Carl:

    There are moves afoot to stop politicians to stop lying. They’ll pass a law as soon as they’ve solved famine, dieases and put an end to all wars.

    But seriously: this case was spectacularly unusual in many respects.

    Firstly, Woolas’ claims were off-the-wall crazy. He accused Watkins of many crimes, several of which carry prison sentences if proved. This is not a normal political slur.

    And they were also judged to be personal, rather than political. For example, in 1997 Tony Blair pledged not to bring in tuition fees. He did. Similarly, many Lib Dem MPs pledged not to vote for top-up fees. It looks like they will. But as these statements are about policies and politics and not untrue statements of fact about an opposition candidate, they would not be against the law.

    I think there may have been a legal challenge to the last Labour Government over their manifesto commitments a few years ago. Can anyone else remember this?

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