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.