Election 2015

Election 2015: George Galloway broke election law, Labour claims

George Galloway is standing for the Respect party in Bradford West Image copyright Getty Images

Labour has accused George Galloway of breaching election law by making false statements about its candidate in the Bradford West seat he's defending.

At a hustings, the Respect candidate had produced what he said was a wedding certificate proving Naz Shah had not, as claimed, been forced to marry at 15.

Mr Galloway was challenging Mrs Shah's account of being forced to wed in Pakistan, published in an open letter.

Labour says her original certificate proves she was a minor at the time.

It says it will publish the "nikah" certificate as proof. The party has written to Mr Galloway's election agent, calling on the Respect leader to apologise, and claiming he has breached electoral law by making false statements about the conduct and character of its candidate.

Mr Galloway's agent, Ron McKay, said: "We are very surprised that Labour wants to prolong this deeply sordid affair and drag it across the voters of Bradford West.

"However, if that is the way it has to be there's very much more that we can say and we will."

The hustings incident made headlines after a clip of Mr Galloway calling Mrs Shah a "liar" emerged on YouTube.

A Labour spokesman said Mr Galloway was "resorting to desperate untruths about Labour's candidate".

Mrs Shah's open letter had described being sent to Pakistan to escape her mother's abusive partner, before undergoing a forced marriage aged 15. The marriage was re-registered when she was 16, to enable her Pakistani husband to get a UK residence visa.

"British authorities would not have allowed her husband to come into the country with her had they known she was only 15 at the time of the marriage," says BBC Radio Leeds political reporter Louise Martin.

"This is not an uncommon practice in such circumstances."

Mrs Shah left her husband in 1992, and became active in politics after her mother's imprisonment.

The candidates for Bradford West are:

  • Harry Boota (UKIP)
  • George Galloway (Respect)
  • George Grant (Conservative)
  • Alun Griffiths (Liberal Democrat)
  • Celia Hickson (Green)
  • Therese Hirst (English Democrats)
  • James Kirkcaldy (Independent)
  • Naseem Shah (Labour)

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