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Top Tory Backs Woolas Appeal

A high-profile Conservative has donated money to the legal fighting fund of former Saddleworth MP Phil Woolas. Blogger and political pundit Iain Dale has given £100, as Mr Woolas tries to raise money to fund a potential judicial review.

Mr Woolas is battling the decision taken by two judges earlier this month that he broke election law by making false statements about his Liberal Democrat opponent during the general election. The judges declared the election result void and gave Mr Woolas a three-year ban on standing for public office. He was also suspended by Labour.

Lawyers for Mr Woolas will this week argue before a panel of three judges that a full judicial review of the original decision should take place. The Woolas team claim the statements shouldn’t have been ruled illegal because, in their view, they related to Elwyn Watkins’ political strategy rather than just his personal character.

Mr Woolas has already received financial help from several of his former Labour colleagues. Writing on his blog today, Mr Dale said that although he found the leaflets produced by the Woolas campaign to be “indefensible” he too had decided to help the ex-minister because he thought it was wrong for a court to intervene in an election in such a way.

He added: “If indeed there was to be a re-run, Phil Woolas should have been able to put his case to the Labour Party for continuing as their candidate.”

Mr Dale went on: “And after all this is over, we should look at the application of this law, because the long term implciations are quite stark for the way we conduct our election campaigns. We need to ensure that robust debate continues. To my mind, the way these kind of disputes should be resolved is not to take them to ‘election courts’, but instead through the libel courts.”

You can read Iain Dale’s blogpost here.

A full archive of articles about the battle for Oldham East and Saddleworth is available here.


  • Cllr Ken Hulme says:

    A thoughtful contribution and a good counter to the near hysteria about the case some folk appear to be trying to whip up.

  • Philip says:

    This does not surprise me, politicians by their nature need to tell lies or at least be economical with the truth. Personally I would like to see the election court extend it’s brief to ALL manifesto lies and false promises.

  • Geoff Frost says:

    Contributions are often considered as being thoughtful etc when one agrees with them. Just because others have a different viewpoint doesn’t turn those into ‘near hysteria’. It’s the oldest debating technique in the book.

  • anon. says:

    And there I was thinking Iain Fale didn’t associate with liars… Oh wait… Dorries!

  • Cllr Ken Hulme says:

    I must be getting old – I remember when liberals like one of my heroes Ludovic Kennedy were champions of tolerance, free speech, open debate and the good old British tradition of fair play.

  • Steven Acres says:

    So do I, KH. But a truly democratic society relies on people putting themselves forward for public office being prepared to answer questions as well as demanding that others answer theirs.

  • Cllr Ken Hulme says:

    Steven don’t you think this obsession with attacking me, flattering though it is, might mean you are completely missing the point on the broader and far more important issues ?

  • Glittery Delpher says:

    Ken – I don’t think you mean that you don’t believe that courts should never overturn election results.

    What if a person is convicted of, say, postal vote fraud and the number of ineligible votes is greater than the majority?

    What if someone spent massively over the election expenses?

    Do you not think that elections should be void if contested in such ways?

  • Cllr Ken Hulme says:

    I mean that I find Iain Dales article thought provoking – that’s what I said.

  • Glittery Delpher says:

    Ken Hulme: do you think that election courts should ever overturn an election result?

  • Glittery Delpher says:

    Of course, Iain also said:

    “Like virtually everyone else, I was appalled by the leaflets Phil Woolas put out during his election campaign. They were wrong, racially inflammatory and totally indefensible. He deserved to lose his seat, and came perilously close to doing so.”

  • Cllr Ken Hulme says:

    I support the MPs ‘recall’ system that the coalition government is proposing – that should render the Election Court obsolete

  • Steven Acres says:

    I doubt if it would render the Election Court (or similar) obsolete at all. The proposal is that MPs could be recalled by the electorate but only after they had been found guilty of some malpractice.

    If anything it would lead to more cases being taken up – and a good thing too.

    Maybe the same system could be introduced at local government level for councillors of all tiers.

  • Glittery Delpher says:

    I find it incredible that Ken Hulme will not answer any simple questions.

    Ken Hulme: do you think that election courts should ever overturn an election result?

    Do you think that ex-Labout councillor Miranda Grell ought to have been prosecuted for making (totally unfounded) allegations of paedophilia of her opponent in London? Should she not have been prosecuted? What about if you find out that the man she slandered received death threats and had to move home because of those lies?

  • Cllr Ken Hulme says:

    Perhaps if you had the decency to use your own name Glittery I might be more disposed to respond to you.

    I find the idea of being ‘interrogated’ by anonymous blogger quite ridiculous.

    For the record I haven’t yet come to a setted view about the future of the Election Court – I’m listening to all the arguments – you should try it sometime.

    Simple answer on Miranda Grell case – YES.

    I hope you are going to apologise for the frankly abusive comments elsewhere on this website – I think you’ve come up to and gone over the bounds of fair comment.

  • Glittery Delpher says:

    Ken: You comment on different forums using anonymous names. Why shouldn’t I?

    I choose not to use my real name because of your DISGRACEFUL record in slurring innocent people. I don’t have the energy to take you to court like Elwyn has taken your mate Phil to court.

    Ken Hulme: Are you prepared to swear on your honour that you played no part in preparing personal attacks on Elwyn?

  • llr Ken Hulme says:

    Glittery I’ll be honest with you – I think you are a silly little blogger and I’m quite enjoying seeing you and your chums getting increasing wound up – I really don’t have any respect for anonymous bloggers when they adopt the sort of pompous self important pose you do.

    Andrew Marr, the BBC’s former political editor who now presents BBC1’s flagship Sunday morning show, said:

    “A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother’s basements and ranting. They are very angry people,” he told the Cheltenham Literary Festival. “OK – the country is full of very angry people. Many of us are angry people at times. Some of us are angry and drunk”.

    “But the so-called citizen journalism is the spewing and rantings of very drunk people late at night.

    I thought of you when I read that – so keep the insults coming – I like a it of light entertainment.

  • Steven Acres says:

    Yet again, GD, you will notice that the “Independent” councillor has not actually denied your claim about his anonymous posting on other sites. It makes me think that your other concerns may well be valid.

    He asks for specific examples. So here’s one. Ken Hulme regularly contributes to the Oldham Chronicle pages as ‘Red Delpher’, he then comes on here to harrangue people who don’t use their name. He is a hypocrite.

    He says, “I really don’t have any respect for anonymous bloggers” which puts me in mind of Phil Woolas who wrongly attacked one candidate as being “unfit to be an MP” for using photoshop in a leaflet and then himself used it several times in his own.

    Now then, Ken, about those connections with the Woolas campaign…….

  • helen says:

    I think glitter delpher is making accusations, not giving insults. I note you have failed to answer them.

    Having been attacked by you for not using my surname I am disgusted to hear that you use pseudonyms. At least mine is my real name, if not full.

    I also remember that you made appalling statements that there was “a kernel of truth” to woolas’ accusations of watkins. You had no proof, and watkins had publicly denied them. Two high court judges have now said they are “certain” that watkins was innocent of all the charges woolas made. Have you apologise to watkins yet?

    Allegations have been made about your involvement and you won’t even deny them. Looks dodgy to me.

  • Cllr Ken Hulme says:

    Steven & Glittery there’s an old saying ‘ When you’re in a hole – stop digging’ and you and your chums have certainly dug yourself a hole

    Look at some of the choice remarks from Glittery and Steven on this blog site in the past week or so.

    He accuses me of having a ‘DISGRACEFUL record in slurring innocent people.’ absolutely no evidence of course.

    His personal abuse includes the accusation that I was ‘ secretly plotting with your mate Phil to muddy an innocent man’s name. Hypocrite.’- a total and absolute lie.

    And what does Glittery cite has his evidence for this intemperate language:

    ‘I will continue to believe the reports I have heard …… that you helped Phil Woolas plan his disgusting and illegal campaign – and these reports come from well before May.’

    Accusations entirely based on rumours and gossip without a shred of evidence to support them

    Note these ‘reports’ are more than eight months old and were made by ‘persons unknown’ in the middle of a local election campaign in which I came close to defeating the sitting Lib Dem Councillor.

    So who was making these ‘reports’ – why didn’t they make them publicly either during the election or in the past eight months. Simple reason – they aren’t true. Politically motivated smears – dirty politics and every bit as untrue as the smears made against Elwyn in the Labour leaflets – if not more so.

    And what do we hear from Steven ?

    ‘My point about the Peace Group meeting is that someone fed that information to the Labour Party and totally misinterpreted what was said at it.’

    ‘the Saddleworth Peace Group meeting…… that I understand nobody from the Labour Party attended.’

    So Steven you weren’t at the meeting but you apparently know all about what went on and the political affiliations, if any, of all those who attended.

    Based on what Steven – Oh yes an anonymous person told him – perhaps one of the people peddling false stories about me in the Local Election campaign.

    Steven and Glittery out of your own postings you have condemned yourselves – sadly up to you necks in the sort of political dirty tricks that so many of us want banished from Saddleworth.

    That answered your politically loaded question ? Don’t try to take the moral high ground with me you little bloggers you are paddling around in the political gutter.

  • Glittery Delpher says:

    I noticed that Steven.

    But do you suppose you will ever get to hear Mr Hulme answer whether he helped prepare negative attacks on Elwyn Watkins?

    Ken has said that the Woolas campaign disgusted him. Self-hatred is an awful thing. Coming clean might be good for his state of mind.

    I do hope that Saddleworth News will bear these developments in mind when covering the Woolas case. From now on, comments about the case from Ken should carry a warning that he has vested interests.

  • Cllr Ken Hulme says:


    What bit of ‘absolute lies’ ‘ wholly false innuendos’ don’t you understand ?

    I think my last posting gave a comprehensive reply and exposed the sort of unpleasant politics and rumour mongering that has been practised by some in Saddleworth since before the local elections. Unless they can put up with a serious allegation they stand accused of being part of it.

    And what you haven’t grasped is that what the Labour leaflets did was to take a small element of truth and stretch it to breaking point so it became an out and out falsehood.

    Example: Elwyn has spent a huge amount of money – a lot of it his own on one of the most expensive election campaigns I have ever seen.

    Perfectly reasonable to ask questions about it but not to stretch it to the figures that were used in the Labour leaders or suggest it was foreign money.

    And yes Islamic groups did target Phil and some backed Elwyn – but when this is stretched to the point of claiming Elwyn actively courted them – especially the extremists – that in my view goes beyond the bounds of fair comment in an election.

    Anyway nice to hear from you again – hope you are keeping well.

    I think this discussion is now well and truly exhausted – cheerio.

  • Steven Acres says:

    If you want to attack people for using pseudonyms, Ken, then that’s fine. If you want to use one yourself that’s also fine. But don’t do both. Not only is that utterly hypocritical but it is also a self-serving way of giving yourself a veneer of respecibility that you jhave forfeited.

    It is also to be noted that your rant does not actually include a denial now that you have been rumbled, just a bad-tempered lashing out at all who dare to point out both your faces.

    GD has asked you a perfectly simple question. Have you any intention of answering it?

  • Cllr Ken Hulme says:

    Yes question fully and comprehensively answered Steven – in my way – see above

    Cheerio – time to move on

  • Steven Acres says:

    Exactly as I thought. You have answered the question “in your way”. The problem is that “in your way” is in the style of most bullies and egocentrics.

    Step 1 is to bluster and complain about abuse just because someone has asked you a totally reasonable question.

    Step 2 is to insist that you have answered the question despite merely carrying out Step 1.

    Step 3 is to be exposed as a hypocrite for doing exactly what you accuse others of.

    Step 4 is to refuse to admit to or apologise for Step 3 and declaim that ‘the subject is now closed’ or ‘it’s time to move on’.

  • Glittery Delpher says:

    Questions not answered. I know for a fact that you use pseudonyms. So you’re a hypocrite.

    And I believe you also backed Woolas’s disgraceful campaign to smear an innocent man.

    Unless, of course, you choose to answer:

    Ken Hulme: Are you prepared to swear on your honour that you played no part in preparing personal attacks on Elwyn?

  • Cllr Ken Hulme says:

    The only question I am considering at the moment is whether or not to follow the legal advice I have received about GD’s accusations.

    including that I was

    ‘secretly plotting with your mate Phil to muddy an innocent man’s name.

    ‘I will continue to believe the reports I have heard …… that you helped Phil Woolas plan his disgusting and illegal campaign – and these reports come from well before May.’

    Serious stuff that crosses the line between fair comment and the usual internet ‘jousting’. And absolutely false of course.

    I’m sure if these comments were sent to the Oldham Chronicle, for example, their lawyers would not allow them to be printed in any form.

    I’m surprised and disappointed Richard has done.

  • Richard says:

    Let me make a couple of points here.

    Ken – in response to your statement that you are “surprised and disappointed” at comments about you which have appeared on this website, let me explain my position. I’ve been content up to now to generally let the various discussions go, and have only moderated out the odd comment which in my view went too far. If you are concerned about any comments which have appeared, please let me know which ones, I’d be glad to take another look and remove them if I decide it’s appropriate to do so. As I’m sure the legal advice you have received will have made clear, that is the first remedy in any dispute of this nature.

    To the other commenters – in Ken Hulme’s view he has repeatedly denied the various points put to him. Clearly there is some disagreement about this from other contributors. I’m all for having lively debates on this site, but unless any of the commenters has anything new to add, I’d respectfully suggest declaring this particular line of discussion closed.

  • Cllr Ken Hulme says:

    I’m afraid my legal advice was and is more severe than that Richard.

    Accusing someone of conspiracy to commit an illegal/criminal act is pretty serious stuff and goes beyond the normal rough & tumble of this sort of debate – which I encourage and rather enjoy.

    I think you have produced a great web site and I have no desire at all to play at censorship – and even at a petty parish pump level elected councillors shouldn’t be in the game if they can’t take a few insults and a bit of abuse – but accusing someone effectively of conspiracy in this context of a ‘criminal’ act does cross a line.

    I have asked Elwyn in an open letter – which you should have a copy of – to join me in trying to dampen down some of the wilder accusations that have been flying around about me – I hope you will see it as a fit subject to report.

  • Richard says:

    I don’t want to say much more on this, except to repeat that if any individual has concerns about any comments which have appeared on this website, please get in touch specifying the comments in question. I’ll take another look at them, and delete them if I think that is appropriate.

    It’s worth reminding everyone that running this website is not my full-time job. I do it in my spare time when I can. This is also a time of high political excitement in Saddleworth, with strong views on all sides, and I don’t want to censor that debate if I can avoid it. Given both of those points, it’s always possible that individual comments get through when, on reflection, maybe they shouldn’t. I hope all users of this website will understand that, and do their best not to abuse the comments facilities.

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