GEORGE Galloway MP claims to have briefed one of Scotland’s most senior lawyers about mounting a legal challenge against West Lothian Council for banning his pro-union roadshow from Livingston.
The Bradford West MP has been in talks with QC Donald Findlay to move to reverse the local authority’s decision after being told his “Just Say Naw” rally was in breach of Local Government Act rules on hosting “party political activities”.
Mr Galloway claims the snub is “politically motivated” and because his planned performance at Howden Park Centre in Livingston was in the role as a private citizen and therefore did not breach government rules.
Today, he told his 170,000 followers on Twitter that he intends to take court action arguing the Local Government Act was being “misinterpreted”.
In a statement, Mr Galloway said: “This is just arrant nonsense. I’ve already appeared at the City Halls in Glasgow and the Whitehall Theatre in Dundee, both of which are council-controlled, and I have successfully booked into several other council venues in Scotland on this tour.
“The truth is that it’s politically-motivated. The SNP group on the council are afraid of the power of my message. In what is the biggest constitutional debate in more than 300 years, the future of Scotland, this miserable little council are displaying the worst of Scottish small-mindedness.”
And he added: “Doubtless if I had called it Just Say Naw Surrender and turned up in a bowler hat and asked them to block off a few streets for me they would have been only too happy. But, seriously, this is a blatantly anti-democratic ban, an attack on free speech. The section of the act they cite refers to party politics and politicians, but this is me as a private citizen, funding it myself and with my friends, so it clearly does not apply. And I am sure my lawyers will concur and we will be taking legal action against the council sharpish.
“Do you think that if Sir Sean had wanted to put on a gig called Just Say Aye they would have knocked him back? No, they’d have been carpeting Almondvale Boulevard with saltires.”
A minority Labour administration currently runs the council.
A West Lothian Council spokesman said: “We are unable to accept bookings for political events on council premises, as doing so would breach section 2 (3) of the 1986 Local Government Act.”