Former Labour MP and Shadow Immigration Minister Phil Woolas has thrown in the towel in his battle to overturn a court ruling which stripped him of his Commons seat.
“It is the end of the road – I am out,” the former Immigration Minister for the previous Labour Government told the BBC as he left the High Court.
A by-election in his Oldham East and Saddleworth will take place soon, as will the appointment of a new shadow Immigration Minister.
Woolas narrowly won the seat in May but the result was declared void by an election court which ruled he had lied about his Lib Dem rival.
Following the decision by the election court, Mr Woolas took the decision to apply for a judicial review, but three High Court judges upheld the court’s ruling on Friday, finding he had been rightly found guilty of “illegal practice”.
In their judgment the High Court held that two out of the three statements made during the election campaign were false personal attacks for the purposes of section 106 of the Act. The third, whilst false in the same way as the others was a ‘political attack’ and not within the scope of the Act – this was the allegation that his opponent did not intend to live in his constituency.
In relation to Article 10 ECHR (freedom of speech) argument, the Court held that the right to freedom of expression “does not extend to the publishing, before or during an election, of a statement that is made dishonestly.”
Strangely, for a Labour Immigration Minister, the false statements involved Muslim propaganda directed against his Liberal Democrat opponent.
The case is the first time an MP has been found guilty of making ‘false statements of fact’ (legal term for lies) in an election petition since 1911.
During his time at the Home Office Mr Woolas was responsible for the introduction of Tier 4 of the points based system, which has since faced a raft legal challenges (Pankina, English UK) and judicial reviews against his former department’s decisions, including the suspension and revocation of hundreds of sponsoring colleges.
In one recent Judicial Review the High Court ruled that the decision of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to revoke the tier 4 sponsor licence of London Reading College was ‘unlawful’.
If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: