Phil Woolas election re-run judgement: In full
Two High Court judges have ordered a re-run of this year's General Election campaign in the Greater Manchester constituency of former Labour minister Phil Woolas. The statement from Mr Justice Nigel Teare said:
"In an election address entitled The Examiner, the respondent (Mr Woolas) made a statement of fact, the meaning of which was that the petitioner attempted to woo, that is to seek, the electoral support of Muslims who advocated violence, in particular violence to the respondent.
"In a further election address entitled Labour Rose, he made a statement of fact the meaning of which was that the petitioner had refused to condemn extremists who advocated violence against the respondent.
"We have concluded that both of these statements, although made in the context of an election and said to arise from a political position adopted by the petitioner, were in relation to the petitioner's personal character or conduct.
"In our judgment to say that a person has sought the electoral support of persons who advocate extreme violence, in particular to his personal opponent, clearly attacks his personal character or conduct.
"It suggests that he is willing to condone threats of violence in pursuit of personal advantage.
"Having considered the evidence which was adduced in court we are sure that these statements were untrue. We are also sure that the respondent had no reasonable grounds for believing them to be true and did not believe them to be true.
"We also found that (in) an earlier election address the respondent had made a statement in fact, namely, that the petitioner had reneged on his promise to live in the constituency. This too, although made in the context of an election and said to arise from a statement made by the petitioner as a candidate in that election, was in relation to his personal character or conduct.
"It suggests that he is untrustworthy. The statement was false and the respondent had no reasonable ground for believing it to be true and did not believe it to be true.
"It follows in our judgment that the respondent is guilty of an illegal practice, contrary to section 136 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 with regard to those statements."
He concluded: "The consequence of our finding that the respondent is guilty of an illegal practice with regard to the statements we have referred to is that, pursuant to section 159(1) of the Act, his election as Member of Parliament for the constituency of Oldham East and Saddleworth is void and we have so reported to the Speaker of the House of Commons.
"We are satisfied that the statutory penalties for the illegal practices committed by the respondent are both necessary and proportionate, having regard to the seriousness of the statements made with regard to the petitioner's alleged attitude to the Muslim extremists who advocated violence."