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Last Updated: Friday, 11 April, 2003, 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK
Sinn Fein lose election appeal
Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew
Michelle Gildernew said requirement designed to exclude Sinn Fein
The High Court has rejected an appeal by Sinn Fein against the refusal of a grant to help with its election policies.

Sinn Fein's application for an Electoral Commission policy development grant for parties with two or more MPs had been turned down.

Mr Justice Coughlin ruled on Friday that the party was not entitled to the funding because its MPs had not taken the oath of allegiance to the crown, which is required in order to sit in the Commons.

Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew argued in her application for a judicial review that the refusal of the grant to help the development of long-term policies contravened the European Convention of Human Rights.

Policy development grants were introduced in 2002 following recommendations from the Neill Committee on Standards in Public Life.

The committee found that political parties were "hard pressed to meet the mounting costs of election campaigns".

Ms Gildernew said in her affidavit that the government was aware that Sinn Fein would be disqualified from policy grant funding if an oath to the Queen was an additional requirement.

She said this measure was designed to exclude her party from receiving the grant.

Dismissing the application, Mr Justice Coughlin said there was no suggestion that Sinn Fein was so lacking in financial resources that its failure to receive the grant would prevent it from imparting information or ideas, or from developing policies for electioneering.

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