Mick welcomes High Court verdict

08 August 2016

Mick Whelan, ASLEF’s general secretary, welcomed the High Court decision today in favour of five Labour Party members and their right to vote in the leadership contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith. Mick said: ‘This is a victory for democracy, and a victory for common sense. The judge could see that the decision not to allow these five members – and the tens of thousands on whose behalf they brought this action – was wrong in principal and wrong in law. We believe in democracy in this country and it is right that people who are members of the Labour Party, and not in breach of the party’s rules, should have the right to participate fully in the discussions, debates, and elections of the party. And that includes the right to elect the leader of the Labour Party, who some in the parliamentary party and doing their best to undermine.’

The High Court case was triggered by the National Executive Committee’s decision that full members could only vote if they had at least six months’ continuous membership to the freeze date of 12 July although the party offered a window from 18-20 July when people could pay £25 to become registered supporters and get the right to vote.

Delivering his judgement, Mr Justice Hickinbottom said: ‘For the party to refuse to allow the claimants to vote in the current leadership election, because they have not been members since 12 January, would be unlawful as in breach of contract.’ At the time each of the five joined the party it was, he said, ‘the common understanding, as reflected in the rule book, that, if they joined the party prior to the election process commencing, as new members they would be entitled to vote in any leadership contest.’

Ballot papers are due to be sent out on 22 August and the result will be announced on 24 September, on the eve of the Labour Party conference.

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