Respect candidate George Galloway has launched legal action against a Labour councillor after he claimed he libelled him in a text message.

Mr Galloway, competing in the Bradford West by-election, announced the legal action yesterday after he was made aware of “highly-defamatory allegations” allegedly made in a text message by the unnamed councillor.

It is understood that Mr Galloway was shown the text after it was sent to a television presenter in Manchester.

Mohammed Ayub, a solicitor at Chambers, confirmed that legal proceedings had been launched against an individual, who he refused to name.

Mr Galloway said: “Labour must be really desperate. The voters can smell a last minute dirty trick a mile off.”

His election agent, Arshad Ali, said: “It is libellous to publish a lie and sending a text message to someone is publishing. We have taken legal advice and today are issuing lawyers letters warning of legal action.”

A Labour spokesman said: “Neither Imran (Hussain, Labour’s candidate in the Bradford West by-election), nor the Labour Party has sent nor sanctioned any text of any nature in the Bradford West campaign. Our candidate is doing what a by-election candidate should be doing – mounting a positive campaign, knocking on the doors of thousands of residents and listening to them about the issues that really matter in this election: youth unemployment, bringing investment to Bradford and the cost of living crisis.

“The Respect candidate is losing the argument on the doorstep so he has resorted to desperate measures to seek to blame others for his own failure.”

Meanwhile, a Bradford South resident said he was unhappy after being handed Respect material outside the Suffa-Tul-Islam mosque in Sunbridge Road last Friday.

Trainee solicitor Waqar Ali, 25, said: “The mosque has no political affiliation with anyone.

“Some of the material seemed to be a personal attack with derogatory comments about Imran Hussain.”