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Woolas: Judical Review Rejected


12:39 pm - November 8th 2010

by Unity    


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In the last half and hour or so, BBC News have reported that Phil Woolas has failed in first attempt to overturn the ruling of the election court, which bars hims from holding any elected public office for the next three years.

Woolas went to the High Court, this morning, to ask for a judicial review of the election¬† court’s decision, a move rejected by the court, which told him to take his case to appeal.

It’s not entirely clear, as yet, why and on what precise grounds Woolas sought a judicial review at this point in time.

Update 1 – 2:47pm:
While the application was rejected on technical grounds. various people on Twitter are saying that Woolas is seeking an oral hearing to renew his Judicial Review application. We’ll keep updating as we hear more.

Update 2 – 3:10pm There will be no new election until after judicial review application by Woolas is considered, says Speaker John Bercow.

Update 3 – 3:15pm Polly Curtis at the Guardian says it’s likely to go to the Court of Appeal.

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About the author
'Unity' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He also blogs at Ministry of Truth.
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Story Filed Under: Elections2010 ,Labour party ,News ,Westminster

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Reader comments


I reckon “why” is easy.

Mark Pack’s posted the judgement of Mr Justice Silber – http://bit.ly/bJnm2B – which is worth a read if you’re interested in the detail.

Essentially, a judicial review is only possible for decision of “inferior tribunals”. The High Court exercises a supervisory jurisdiction of such bodies, and can conduct judicial reviews of their decisions. In this case, whether JR was available turned on what an Election Court actually is.

This was being debated by various lawyers on Twitter on Friday; I was one of those who felt the Election Court (for Parliamentary elections) was actually the High Court. This is the view that Mr. Justice Silber has taken.

Given that a Parliamentary Election Court is two High Court judges, sitting as High Court judges, it’s difficult to see how any other results was realistic.

Thanks Matt, that covers the technical aspects of the application nicely but, unfortunately, fails to explain the actual premise on which Woolas sought the review.

What I suspect here, from his banal witterings about ‘chilling effects’ is that Woolas was planning to try and overturn s106 itself by seeking a declaration of incompatibility with ECHR/HRA.

In itself, that strikes me, if correct, as an act of desperation rather than a viable basis for overturning the election court’s decision.

@Unity: I think, if you read between the lines of Silber says, it doesn’t look as if the application expressly raised breach of a convention right. At Observation 1(d), he says:

Alternatively if a decision of the Election Court is amenable to judicial review this would only arise in limited circumstances none of which apply to this case.

Among the limited grounds for JR would be breach of a convention right, although not if there was an avenue of appeal (since the appeal could deal with the matter). Given Silber states that the availability of an appeal “…would be an additional ground for refusing permission” (my emphasis), it’s difficult to see how he could be dealing with an application that rest on convention rights.

(The underlying legalities are a bit more complex, but I think this is a reasonable summary for these purposes)

There’s no point in him trying a JR or an appeal. He is damaged goods. It doesn’t matter even if wins and is totally exonorated and stands for election and wins. He will always be seen as a tainted poltician which will affect him for the rest of his life.

The more he presses to clear his name and fails the more the publicity against him will rise.

He’d be better off giving up, staying low for a year or so (I bet he’ll probably still get his severance money and pension etc) and then quietly going into some lobbying company just like all his other friends such as Jacqui Smith et al.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Woolas: Judical Review Rejected http://bit.ly/9QdJrk

  2. Unity

    RT @libcon: Woolas: Judical Review Rejected http://bit.ly/9QdJrk

  3. Duncan Stott

    RT @Unity_MoT: RT @libcon: Woolas: Judical Review Rejected http://bit.ly/9QdJrk

  4. Derek Bryant

    RT @libcon: Woolas: Judical Review Rejected http://bit.ly/9QdJrk

  5. Claire Butler

    RT @libcon Woolas: Judical Review Rejected http://bit.ly/9QdJrk

  6. Kath Richardson

    RT @CLButler76: RT @libcon Woolas: Judical Review Rejected http://bit.ly/9QdJrk <oh dear what a shame

  7. Gavin Lingiah

    RT @libcon: Woolas: Judical Review Rejected http://bit.ly/9QdJrk

  8. Liberal Conspiracy

    No immediate election in Oldham to replace Woolas, says Speaker of the House. Our updates here: http://bit.ly/9QdJrk

  9. SSP Campsie

    RT @libcon: No immediate election in Oldham to replace Woolas, says Speaker of the House. Our updates here: http://bit.ly/9QdJrk

  10. SSP Campsie

    RT @libcon: No immediate election in Oldham to replace Woolas, says Speaker of the House. Our updates here: http://bit.ly/9QdJrk

  11. Pucci Dellanno

    RT @libcon: No immediate election in Oldham to replace Woolas, says Speaker of the House. Our updates here: http://bit.ly/9QdJrk





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