Woolas loses High Court case

As the press today notes Phil Woolas has failed in his attempt before the High Court to overturn the previous decision of the Election court.

Decision of the Election Court

The Election Court previously held that Woolas knowingly and deliberately misled his constituency as a result of three false statements made against his Liberal Democrat opponent during his  electoralcampaign designed to ‘galvanise the white Sun vote’.  His election was consequently declared void and  he was barred from seeking relection for three years.

False attacks on personal character/conduct

The case  hinged on section 106 of the Representation of the People Act. This makes it  an offence to publish “any false statement of fact in relation to a candidate’s personal character or conduct” to prevent them being elected – unless such statements are believed to be true and there are  “reasonable grounds” for this.

Woolas made three false statements about his opponent. One of these was the notorious allegation that he was wooing the extremist vote whilst also condoning violence from muslim militants who had allegedly issued threats against Woolas himself.

High Court judgement

The High Court in their judgement held that  two out of the three statements  were false personal attacks fo the purposes of section 106 of the Act. The third, whilst false in the same way as the others was a ‘political attack’ and not within the scope of the Act – this was the allegation that his opponent did not intend to live in his constituency.

In relation to Article 10 ECHR  (free speech) arguments, the Court held that  the right to freedom of expression “does not extend to the publishing, before or during an election, of a statement that is made dishonestly.”

The future

The effect of the above is that the election of Woolas remains void and he continues to be barred from seeking relection for three years. The Press reports that Woolas will not be appealing against the judgement.

We should now expect a by-election in Oldham East, but also the appointment of a new shadow Immigration Minister sometime soon. In short, as D: Ream once sang ‘things can only get better’…

About jcwi

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants is a key campaigning voice in the field of immigration, asylum and nationality law and policy. It is completely independent from government funding, remaining entirely free from government influence. View all posts by jcwi

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: