Phil Woolas

Jim Pickard

John Pienaar has revealed that a mutiny took place during last night’s weekly meeting of the PLP: Here is his report from Five Live: I will bring you any more details I pick up later in the day.

The decision to suspend and disown expelled MP Phil Woolas, found guilty of lying by a special election court, has provoked what Labour MPs and former ministers are describing as a “mutiny” against the Labour leadership at Westminster.

Today, Mr Woolas is engaged in raising cash for a legal challenge to the court ruling whoich led to his sacking. He told me he had already received pledges of support from “dozens of colleagues” – many of whom had promised to begin fund raising efforts of their own.

Deputy Labour leader, Harriet Harman, faced a backbench revolt at last night’s private meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

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Jim Pickard

Phil Woolas has just lost an historic court case in which he was accused of making false claims before the general election. There will now be a re-election for his seat, which he won in May with a majority of just 103 votes.

The case was the first of its kind for a century.

As the FT reported last month:

Phil Woolas was re-elected by a slim majority in Oldham east and Saddleworth, beating the Liberal Democrat candidate Elwyn Watkins. Mr Watkins claims Mr Woolas made false statements about him in an attempt to influence the result.

The court heard that Mr Woolas’s campaign team aimed to “galvanise the white Sun vote” against Mr Watkins, claiming Mr Watkins had tried to “woo” and “pander” to Muslim fanatics and militants, the court was told.

Now the Labour MP has lost the case it will set a curious precedent for British elections, where mud-slinging is widespread and many candidates are thrifty with the actualité.

Without wanting to trivialise a no doubt serious case, where does Woolas’s defeat leave Britain’s political parties in future elections? Will their leaders have to muzzle all candidates for fear of twisting the truth?

Take this general election, where the Lib Dems made a fervent promise to protect tuition fees and prevent them from rising higher. It was a promise worth its weight in hot air. Should some of their MPs face fresh elections? Read more