Ali G’s one-time agent brings case which could see Labour leader required to get nominations to stand in election
The case of Foster v McNicol and another was heard yesterday in the High Court in front of Mr Justice Foskett. It could potentially decide the fate of the Labour party: if Judge Foskett decides that the National Executive Committee (NEC) was wrong to rule that Jeremy Corbyn, as incumbent leader, did not require nominations to stand, then the contest could become a coronation for Owen Smith. An outcome likely to infuriate the membership in the country as much as Corbyn infuriates the members in the House.
Given the scale of the divide in the Labour party, it is perhaps apt that Judge Foskett is the author of the leading book about compromise in English law.
The case was brought by Michael Foster, once the most feared theatrical agent in London and, most recently, failed Labour candidate for the Cornish constituency of Camborne, Redruth and Hayle.
A short man, renowned for being one of the most volatile men in Soho even during its angriest decades, he, on one occasion, even managed to break a finger while dialing a phone too vigorously.
His client Chris Evans has described him as:
A very small Jewish man as equally proud of his heritage as he is unphased [sic] by his lack of height.
Another former client Tom Hollander, who was delighted to discover that the super-agent was shorter than him, said about him:
He’s a character who says and does things that I would never dare to do in my own life. Most people wouldn’t but Michael would. Which makes him an exceptional person.
Now he is taking the leader of his party through the law courts in a case which could lead to him being usurped.
Miller argued that once a contest had been triggered it could not be the case that the nominations requirement applied only to the challenger. He stated he was not seeking to exclude Corbyn from the process, merely that he should be required to have sufficient nominees to be part of it.
Henderson explained that the courts should only become involved in the rules of unincorporated associations if the rules were incoherent, and these rules were not incoherent. Further, to prevent the members voting for their leader would be “a bold step, requiring a clear term.”
Westgate argued that Corbyn had to be treated differently from the challenger otherwise he, too, would be a challenger. Further, he reminded the judge that he had no reason to disturb the decision unless it was unreasonable and reasonable people can, of course, disagree.
Foskett J will hand down his judgment on Thursday.