Watkins v Woolas

by Carl Gardner on November 6, 2010

All the media has been reporting the case Phil Woolas lost in the High Court yesterday, sitting as an Election Court. So you probably know his election in Oldham East and Saddleworth has to be run again, and that, having under section 158 of the Representation of the People Act 1983 been reported guilty by the Court of an illegal practice under section 106, he must now vacate his Commons seat and is barred from standing in the resulting by-election, and from standing for Parliament or any elective office for the next three years, under section 160(4) and (5)(b).

Interesting, this of all weeks, that under section 160(4)(a)(i) he’s also incapable of being on the electoral register or voting for that three-year period. In that respect he’ll soon be worse off than prisoners convicted of much worse offences. *

Here’s the judgment of the Election Court. It’s interesting for the way the judges deal with the proportionality of the interference its finding makes with Mr. Woolas’s Convention right to freedom of expression.

*Oops! I missed s160(4A), which limits this bar only to those guilty of corrupt and illegal practices in relation to voting. Thanks to Unity for putting me straight in comments. No prisoner voting irony, then.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Unity November 6, 2010 at 01:37

Interesting, this of all weeks, that under section 160(4)(a)(i) he’s also incapable of being on the electoral register or voting for that three-year period.

I’m not sure that’s correct as the disbarment from voting only applies to illegal practices covered by s61, which covers proxy voting offences – see s160(4A)

2 Carl Gardner November 6, 2010 at 13:23

Quite right, Unity! Thanks.

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