Labour ‘five’ get court ruling over right to vote

Jeremy Corbyn (L) and candidate Owen Smith will go head-to-head for leadership of the Labour Party. Picture: AFP/Getty
Jeremy Corbyn (L) and candidate Owen Smith will go head-to-head for leadership of the Labour Party. Picture: AFP/Getty
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A High Court judge is ruling on a bid by five new members of the Labour Party who have “paid their dues” for the legal right to vote in the forthcoming leadership election.

A QC representing the five has accused the party’s national executive committee (NEC) of unlawfully “freezing” them and many others out of the high-profile contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith. The case was triggered by an NEC decision that full members would not be able to vote if they had not had at least six months’ continuous membership up to 12 July – the “freeze date”.

The court action affects almost 130,000 Labour supporters who are victims of the freeze. Judgment is being given today.

To gain the right to vote, members were given a window of opportunity to become “registered supporters” on payment of an additional fee of £25. Stephen Cragg QC, appearing for the five, asked Mr Justice Hickinbottom, sitting in London, to declare that party rules had been misapplied and the five are entitled to vote in the 24 September poll. They are Christine Evangelou, Rev Edward Leir, Hannah Fordham, Chris Granger and “FM”, a new member aged under 18 bringing a challenge through his mother on the grounds of age discrimination.