Galloway Challenges Batley By-Election Over Labour MPs’ Misuse of Offices for Campaigns
17:42 GMT 12.11.2021 (Updated: 15:16 GMT 28.05.2023)
Labour candidate Kim Leadbeater — parachuted in by the party leadership — won the July 1 Batley and Spen by-election with a majority of just over 300 votes, while the new Workers' Party came a close third with 22 per cent of the vote.
Broadcaster George Galloway
has launched a legal challenge to force a re-run of July's Batley and Spen by-election.
The veteran left-winger finally kicked off his long-threatened legal bid after political gossip site Guido Fawkes exposed how several Labour party MPs used their publicly-funded Parliamentary offices as bases for phone canvassing in several by-elections.
Galloway filed the petition at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Friday morning, saying he hoped "a free and fair election will soon follow in Batley and Spen."
"The Labour Party knowingly failed to declare the use of four MPs' offices as notional expenditure during phone banking sessions undertaken on the Parliamentary estate, which in effect meant that taxpayers contributed to the cost of the Labour Party’s election campaign," the document reads.
The four individuals include shadow education secretary Kate Green — herself a former member of the Parliamentary Standards Committee — along with shadow universities minister Matt Western and shadow Europe and Americas minister Catherine West. The fourth person is an un-named staff member, Guido Fawkes
That use of public property for partisan campaigning was not listed in new Labour MP Kim Leadbeater's
election expenses declaration — a breach of electoral law.
Leadbeater, the sister of the seat's murdered former MP Jo Cox, was selected as Labour candidate just weeks after joining the party in breach of its rules. She won the July 1 by-election by a wafer-thin majority of 323 votes, with Workers' Party GB candidate Galloway coming a close third to Tory Ryan Stephenson with 22 per cent of the ballot.
The election was marred by allegations of misconduct, anti-Indian racism
and homophobia by Leadbeater and Galloway's campaign teams and supporters.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner reported former attorney-general Geoffrey Cox to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone on Tuesday for allegedly doing private legal work — for which her reportedly earned over £1 million
— from his House of Commons office.
But two days later Labour was caught out misusing public property for its campaigning in the by-election in Old Bexley and Sidcup, left vacant by the death from cancer of Conservative MP James Brokenshire.
In now-deleted tweets, shadow solicitor-general MP Ellie Reeves — the sister of shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and wife of Parliamentary Labour Party chair John Cryer — thanked Green and fellow MPs Vicky Foxcroft, Rupa Huq, Apsama Begum and Helen Hayes for helping out with the "virtual phonebank".
Foxcroft is shadow minister for disabled people, while Begum was recently acquitted
of charges of fraudulently jumping the waiting list for a council flat in her east London.