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3 December 2010updated 27 Sep 2015 2:06am

Phil Woolas loses legal bid to overturn his ejection from Commons

High court upholds charges of “illegal practices” against disgraced former immigration minister.

By Samira Shackle

Phil Woolas has failed in his effort to overturn the court decision removing him from parliament on the grounds of “corrupt practices”.

Three high court judges have rejected his attempt to contest the conclusion of the specially convened election court which found that he had made false statements about his Liberal Democrat opponent in the May election, Elwyn Watkins.

Woolas – who published leaflets in his Oldham constituency specifically designed to “get the white folks angry” – argued that the court’s interpretation of the law interfered with his freedom of speech.

However, today Lord Justice Thomas, Mr Justice Tugendhat and Mrs Justice Nicola Davies upheld the election court’s ruling, saying that although one of the findings could be set aside, Woolas had still committed “illegal practice”.

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It is just the latest blow to Woolas’s attempt to overturn the ruling. Early last month, the high court rejected his first request for a judicial review of the case.

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As my colleague George Eaton noted last month, some of Woolas’s apologists in Labour claim the court’s decision could “chill” political freedom – a worrying position, given that he was found to be telling outright lies about his opponent.

Perhaps an apology is too much to ask for, but one must hope that Woolas – who has been suspended from the Labour Party – will now allow the matter to rest.