Batley and Spen: George Galloway says he will take legal action to challenge by-election defeat

Losing candidate claims ‘false statement’ was made about him

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Friday 02 July 2021 09:30 BST

Related video: Labour’s Kim Leadbeater says Batley and Spen have ‘voted for hope’

Defeated by-election candidate George Galloway has said he will challenge the result of Thursday's contest in the courts.

The former Labour and Respect MP stood in Batley and Spen but came third with 21.8 per cent of the vote, while Labour slid home with a narrow majority of 300.

Speaking after the result, Mr Galloway said he had "multiple grounds" to overturn the result.

He alleged that a "false statement" had been made about him laughing while the winning candidate Kim Leadbeater was abused.

The heated campaign in the seat had seen some canvassers allegedly pelted with eggs and kicked in the head, though it is not clear who was behind the attacks.

"The whole election campaign was dominated by lazy and false tropes about our campaign, about the thousands of people that voted for us, about their motives for doing so, in a way which defamed them as much as it defamed me," Mr Galloway said.

"So on multiple grounds we will apply to the courts for this election result to be set aside."

The final result saw Labour narrowly win with 35.19 per cent of the vote to the Tories 34.33 per cent, while Mr Galloway ended on 21.87 per cent.

During the course of the campaign Mr Galloway had predicted that Labour would lose.

The former Labour MP, who also previously sat as a Respect MP on an anti-war platform, largely targeted Labour voters.

He made unseating Keir Starmer as Labour leader one of his campaign messages, playing off Sir Keir's unpopularity in the constituency, according to polling.

Speaking to the BBC after the result, winning Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater said: "I think sadly we've seen some nastiness during this by election campaign, and there are some divisions that need to be healed, but I think if anyone can achieve that, then, then I can.

“I conducted a very positive campaign, I focused very much on the good people of Batley and Spen."

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