Cooper v Evans & anor

Reference: [2023] EWHC 2555 (KB)

Court: High Court

Judge: Jay J

Date of judgment: 12 Oct 2023

Summary: Electoral law - s.106 injunction - false statements of fact - personal character or political

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Appearances: Greg Callus (Claimant)  Ben Hamer (Claimant) 

Instructing Solicitors: Astraea Linskills LLP for the Claimant; Keystone Law for the Defendants


Eddie Hughes MP, Conservative MP for Walsall North, had been selected to fight the seat of Tamworth as the Conservative PPC for the next General Election, owing to the abolition of his seat. However, when the resignation of Chris Pincher MP triggered a by-election in Tamworth, Mr Hughes MP said publicly he would not stand at the by-election. C was instead selected as the Conservative candidate for the by-election. Mr Hughes MP then said publicly he would not run in Tamworth at the General Election if C was elected at the by-election.

Ds (supporters of the Labour Party) had published, during a by-election campaign for Tamworth, an advert on Facebook intending to affect the prospects of C, the Conservative candidate at that by-election. That advert alluded to “the Conservatives’ Dodgy Deals”, and implied that Mr Hughes and C had done a ‘deal’ whereby C would run in the by-election, but not at the General Election, allowing Mr Hughes to run in Tamworth and C to collect the £29,000 paid to retiring MPs.

C brought a Part 8 claim for an injunction under s.106(3) Representation of the People Act, to prohibit Ds from publishing a false statement of fact about his personal character until the end of the by-election. Both C and Hughes filed affadavits swearing there had been no such deal between them, or any sort of deal at all.

In correspondence after the injunction hearing was listed, the Labour Party (an unincorporated association, which was not itself a party to the action) offered contractual undertakings not to re-publish the specific advert or reference to ‘dodgy deals’, but refused to give any undertaking to the Court and/or undertakings from Ds personally and/or an undertaking not to publish ‘similar statements’.


There was no dispute that Ds had published the Advert ‘before or during the election’, referring to C, for the purpose of affecting C’s election at the by-election.

(1) Applying by analogy the principles from the law of defamation as to Meaning:

(a) was the statement a statement of fact or opinion?

(b) was it prima facie false?

(c) did it concern C’s “personal character or conduct” (or was it ‘political’)?

(2) If the criteria for a s.106(3) injunction were made out, should it be refused as unnecessary in light of the undertakings offered?


(1) The injunction application had to be refused;

(a) The statement was one of fact; and

(b) The statement was prima facie false; but

(c) The statement concerned C’s political position, not his personal character or conduct.


(2) This is issue did not need to be resolved, but undertakings would ordinarily be sufficient, and the “similar statement” would be implied. In any event, during the hearing, Ds had given through their counsel assurances to the Court that the Advert – irrespective of the result – would not be republished.



Another in a growing line of post-Woolas cases where the Court has grappled with the personal/political line in s.106 RoPA.