Court hears of Woolas ‘s*** or bust’ strategy

By staff

Labour MP Phil Woolas ran a “dirty tricks” campaign in a bid to “make the white folk angry”, an unusual election court heard yesterday.

The Oldham East and Saddleworth MP was alleged to have claimed Liberal Democrat challenger Elwyn Watkins had tried to “woo” Muslim extremists on the first day of a five-day hearing.

Two high court judges are presiding over the court, held in Uppermill, Saddleworth, which is hearing Mr Watkins’ claim that Mr Woolas misrepresented his position under the Representation of the People Act 1983.

It is alleged Mr Woolas falsely accused Mr Watkins of not living in the constituency when he had promised he would, suggesting the Lib Dem’s campaign was being illegally funded by a sheikh and wooing the extremist vote.

The court heard Mr Woolas, the former immigration minister, employed a “s*** or bust” campaign strategy.

“Mr Woolas made these false statements as part of a series of reckless and irresponsible steps in this campaign,” Helen Mountfield QC told the court.

She added the incumbent stooped to “fomenting racial divisions and tensions”, adding: “He did it because he feared if he didn’t he would lose.”

Mr Woolas vigorously denies the allegations and will continue giving evidence to the court today. It is the first case of its kind for 99 years.