Saturday, 6 November 2010


THE disgraced Oldham East and Saddleworth MP, Phil Woolas,(pictured left above) has been suspended by the Labour Party following damning criticism by two High Court judges that he had made false statements and was 'guilty of illegal practices' under election law.

Yesterday at the Uppermill Civic Hall, Saddleworth, the election court declared the election result void and ordered a by-election. Woolas won the seat at the last General Election by the narrowest of majorities(103). Elwyn Watkins, his Lib Dem rival, accused Woolas of mud slinging and of telling deliberate lies in his election material in order to win the election. He then took legal action against Woolas which led to the historic election court being set up in Uppermill earlier this year.

In his election material Woolas had alleged that Elwyn Watkins (LIbDem) had tried to win the votes of Muslims who advocated violence and had refused to condemn the extremists in his own constituency who had threatened him with violence.  The two High Court judges, Mr. Justice Nigel Teare and Mr. Justice Griffith Williams, said that this clearly amounted to an attack on his opponents 'personal character or conduct' and they added that Woolas had: 'no reasonable grounds for believing them to be true and did not believe them to be true.'

Another allegation made by Woolas, which was also found to be untrue by the election court, was the false claim that Watkins had broken a pledge to live in the constituency. Woolas was nevertheless cleared of knowingly making a false statement that Mr. Watkins' election campaign costs were likely to be in excess of £200,000, the legal limit.

After the judge`s ruling yesterday, Woolas, was ordered to pay Mr. Watkins the sum of £5,000 and was also ordered to pay his rival`s legal costs. He was also barred from holding public office for three years.  Speaking to the Manchester Evening News (M.E.N.) Mr. Watkins said that people who deliberately lie about their opponents: 'have no part to play in democracy' and he added:

"What Mr. Woolas decided was that he would do anything to keep his seat and his position of power. To my mind in a democracy that is just not acceptable."

After the ruling Woolas announced that he would be seeking a judicial review and would be making no further comment.  The Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman responded by condemning Woolas and stated that the Labour Party would not be supporting his appeal. Effectively his political career is now finished.

During the expenses scandal, Woolas came under a barrage of criticism for his expenses claims.  One of his claims for MP`s expenses included items of women`s clothing, women`s shoes, nail varnish, tampons and nappies.  As MP`s expenses claims are supposedly for personal use it is unclear why these claims were made.

When Woolas was asked whether his claim for precisely £210.31 indicated that he had put the shoes and nail varnish on expenses, he replied: 'I take your point and I understand the extrapolation.'

When challenged by the press about these outrageous claims, Woolas, responded by threatening legal action (see N.V. mag issue 11).

1 comment:

bammy said...

It couldn't happen to a nicer fella! Bless him!