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'I'm out': Phil Woolas loses election challenge

    Phil Woolas
    Phil Woolas

    A by-election will be held in the Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency after Labour’s former immigration minister Phil Woolas lost a legal challenge to keep his parliamentary seat.

    The High Court today rejected Mr Woolas’ attempt to overturn a ruling which found him guilty of lying about a rival and voided the result of the May election which returned him as the constituency’s MP.

    The initial result was challenged by the Liberal Democrat candidate Elwyn Watkins, who lost by just 103 votes.

    He said Mr Woolas falsely accused him of wooing extremist Muslims and tried to portray him as antisemitic because of his views on Gaza. In November a special election court ruled that the MP breached election regulations by making false claims.

    That decision was upheld by three High Court judges, who said: "[His comments] were a serious personal attack on a candidate by saying he condoned violence by extremists and refused to condemn those who advocated violence."

    Mr Woolas has now exhausted all avenues to oppose this. The ruling means that he is barred from standing for public office and so will not be able to contest his old seat.

    He said following the ruling: "It is the end of the road - I am out."

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