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Legal Challenge From Election Loser

By Mohammed Usman 

AN ELECTION rival beaten by just 103 votes in Oldham East and Saddleworth by Labour’s Phil Woolas is launching a legal challenge against the result.

Liberal Democrat Elwyn Watkins believes Labour printed “misleading” content before the count and has forwarded a petition with the High Court to have the result overturned.

If found guilty, Mr Woolas could be imprisoned, fined, disbarred from public office for three or five years and the election result deemed void,

Mr Watkins said: “Although much of the material in these leaflets was misleading or in error, my case will focus on three particular areas.

“The claim that I do not live in the constituency, the stories about me ‘wooing’ Muslim extremists and the back page newspaper article regarding the financing of my campaign.”

Mr Watkins says Labour breached the Representation of the People Act which states that any candidate who publishes a false statement by another is guilty of illegal practice.

High Court judges and the Official Recorder of the House of Commons are now expected to travel to Oldham within the next couple of months.

Mr Watkins stated that he intends to give up on politics if his legal bid fails.

But Mr Woolas remained defiant and dismissed the action as “sour grapes.”

He said: “It is disappointing. It was a close result and I am sorry that my opponent is such a bad loser.”

Oldham resident Sher Zaman, who works for Manchester Council, said: “I think Watkins should just accept his loss.

“I know there were only 103 votes in it but they had 3 re-counts and that should be enough to satisfy anyone”.

The case is expected to take place at the Oldham Civic Centre.

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