Phil Woolas’ letter to George Howarth and the PLP

Dear George

Further to our conversation, I am writing to thank you and through you, the PLP, for all of your efforts on my behalf.

I believe the outcome of the Election Court decision and the Judicial Review is devastating news not just for me personally but for the conduct of future elections. Through our efforts we have at least established that a Judicial Review of an Election Court decision in England for a Parliamentary Election is possible. There was never doubt that it is possible in Scotland and for local elections. We also overturned the outrageous precedent of the Oldham Election Court on the definition of what is personal comment and what is fair political comment. Unfortunately, the High Court did not follow the logic of their argument and overturn the finding regarding two of the election leaflet articles.

It was encouraging that we won on the costs with the Court ruling that each side should pay its own costs. As my legal team were acting for free and out of their conviction of my case and the importance of it, this will mean that I will be able to refund the bulk of the money that you helped to raise – around £50,000.

The judgement leaves the definition of fair political comment in uncertainty. The Election Court defined a meaning to my election leaflets that we do not accept. There is a huge difference, in my opinion between accusing the Liberal Democrats of pandering to extremism and supporting it. In any event, our argument was that this was fair political comment.

I am pleased that our Party Leader, Ed Miliband has supported the call for the Electoral Commission to review this area of the law.

My Agent and I completely refute the accusation by the Liberal Democrats that our campaign was designed to motivate racial tension – indeed the bigotry is in the assumption that the Asian voters were supporting the extremists when they were in the vanguard of our attack on them. Our campaign as aimed, successfully at showing that extremism from whatever sources was to be rejected by all. Others in the PLP have faced similar circumstances and I am especially grateful for their understanding and support.

I attach a copy of the message I sent to my CLP members on Friday night and would urge all members to get behind our by-election campaign. I have been overwhelmed by the support I have received from throughout the movement and especially want to thank you for your solidarity. I will remain active in the Labour Party and will continue my loyalty to our cause to which I have devoted my adult life.

It is outrageous that judges can overturn the decision of the electorate without any avenue of appeal other than Judicial Review. After four general election victories, in which I and the Labour  Party have been subject to the most scurrilous campaign attacks by the Liberal Democrats, the BNP and outside third parties, although not, I have to say, by the official  Conservative Party, it is simply undemocratic that the elected candidate should be stripped of office


Phil Woolas

MP for Oldham East & Saddleworth 1997 – 2010

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3 Responses to “Phil Woolas’ letter to George Howarth and the PLP”

  1. Chris says:

    Now could Mr Woolas tell us why he voted for the 1983 act if he thought it was awful?

    As with a lot of MPs, he has been found to be a liar and a defamer. I hope he is now sued for defamation and is bankrupted.

    Should we assume that those who supported him think that knowingly lying about their opponent is OK.

    I realise that many MPs lie as a matter of normal conduct, strange to see them being so open and honets about their belief that they’re beyond the law and can thieve and lie at will.

  2. Matthew says:

    Couldn’t have happened to a nicer chap!

    Oh, and please do continue to support Labour. Your face will be a reminder to all about what happens when the champagne socialists are allowed anywhere near office.

  3. Jonah says:

    I constantly irritate my friends by seeing both sides of the story. I do have some sympathy for people who make even outrageously bad decisions when it destroys their good name and their careers – eg the Aitkens and the Archers. But it does not mean it is wrong to take action when people do make bad and/or illegal choices.

    I think it is worth going back to Woolas’s campaign newspaper. Discussion threads all over the place have failed to come up with any other document produced by Labour or by any other party (even the Liberals) that is as bad.

    My sympathy for Woolas is reduced because he stands by that leaflet as acceptable. He says he has no regrets.

    Gosh, I have regrets over choosing a bacon roll over healthy porridge this morning. Yet he has no regrets whatsoever over his campaign? Not even now he’s been disqualified? Astonishing.

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