Woolas's exit paves way for BNP to stand in by-election

Phil Woolas has given up his battle against becoming the first MP for almost a century to lose his seat for lying about an opponent.

A by-election will be held on 3 February in the former Labour MP's seat of Oldham East and Saddleworth, The Independent understands. Campaigning in the former immigration minister's seat could be given an extra edge by the participation of Nick Griffin. The British National Party leader wrote on the social networking site Twitter yesterday: "Our local organiser well up for it, with me as candidate."

The by-election will be a significant test of the three main parties' popularity following the Coalition Government's austerity package, but will also be overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Mr Woolas's vitriolic general election campaign against his Lib Dem rival.

The former minister scraped home by just 103 votes after claiming before polling day that his opponent, Elwyn Watkins, had failed to condemn extremist attacks and had "wooed" Islamist radicals. The Greater Manchester constituency has a history of racial tensions.

After the Liberal Democrats complained about the tactics, a specially-convened election court declared the result void, removed Mr Woolas as an MP, and banned him from standing for Parliament for three years. Labour immediately suspended him from the party and said it would not support his attempts to overturn the decision.

Mr Woolas was forced to go it alone – and now faces a massive bill for legal expenses after the original court's decision was upheld at the High Court. His challenge had been fast-tracked to ensure the constituency did not go too long without an MP.

Lord Justice Thomas, Mr Justice Tugendhat and Mrs Justice Nicola Davies agreed that there had been "illegal practice" by Mr Woolas in that he had gone beyond political argument to attack his opponent's character. Mr Woolas, who was in court for the judgment, said there was no mechanism open to him to challenge the decision, adding: "It is the end of the road. I am out."

Labour plans to move the writ for the by-election to 3 February – among the earliest dates it can be held.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - 6 month FTC - Central London

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before