In the spirit of The What and The Why.com – herewith a look at the law George Galloway is using in his bid to overturn the result in the British General Election in which he lost to Naz Shah of the Labour Party.
Mr Galloway claims ‘malpractice’ was why he lost by 11,000 votes, especially pertaining to postal votes and false statements. It is ironic that the man who has played the race and religion card in order to win power, is now drawing attention to something the ever so polite British prefer not to talk about – that there are political activists among sections of the population who have imported political practices from countries where the rule of law is theoretical as opposed to real.
Mr Galloway is using the Representation of the People Act 1983 (RPA). Specifically he is claiming Ms Shah has violated section 106. So the W&Y thought it helpful to report section 106. Here it is subbed down – but the full version can be found here:
“106 False statements as to candidates.
(1)A person who, or any director of any body or association corporate which—
(a)before or during an election,
makes or publishes any false statement of fact in relation to the candidate’s personal character or conduct shall be guilty of an illegal practice, unless he can show that he had reasonable grounds for believing, and did believe, that statement to be true.”
Mr Galloway’s case appears to refer to his claims during the election campaign that his opponent had lied about being forced into marriage aged 15. He disputed her entire back story and thus questioned her character.
At one of the hustings he told her – “You claimed – and gullible journalists believed you – that you were subject to a forced marriage at the age of 15. But you were not 15; you were 16 and a half. I have your nikah (Islamic wedding certificate) in my pocket.”
He has now submitted a complaint to the Director of Public Prosecutions claiming that a witness to the marriage ceremony was not actually present, and that his signature on the marriage document was forged.
His accusations are not trivial. Given that under the RPA, theoretically, if a person took a ‘selfie’ in an election booth showing how someone had voted it could result in 6 months in jail, the stakes are potentially high.
Ms Shah has told the Daily Telegraph of her feelings towards Mr Galloway and his legal actions – “ I pity him for having to stoop to that kind of level and being that desperate. That desperation was quite evident.”
During the campaign the Labour Party accused Mr Galloway of breaking the RPA by lying about Ms Shah’s marriage and on election night he was reported to the police after he sent a tweet about exit polls before voting closed, which is illegal.
In early March the former Labour Party MP threatened legal action against anyone who reweeted an allegation of anti-semitism against him demanding that they pay £5,000 into his bank account or he would take them to court. Legal sources close to the case have told the W&Y that since the initial flurry of legal threats “No further communications of note have been forthcoming'”.
If Mr Galloway fails to make it back to Parliament via the courts, he intends to either stand as Mayor for the London borough of Tower Hamlets, or for the Mayorship of London itself when Boris Johnson stands down.
Recently Mr Galloway gave his full support to the former Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman after his conviction for multiple fraud and corruption offences following a political career in which he repeatedly played the race card, in this instance appealing to the Bangladeshi section of the Tower Hamlets population. Mr Rahman was found to have ‘cynically perverted’ the law.