It was an ugly fight. As an atheist, he sought to affirm rather than take the oath on a Bible. That had been allowed in courts as a result of legislation - which Bradlaugh had used as a Solicitor's clerk, prior to the change in law he had complied with the requirement to take an oath. He made it clear that he was prepared to take the oath in Parliament if required, but his enemies denied him that, on the grounds of his atheism. He was sued for voting before he had taken such an oath, in an attempt to disqualify him from parliament - by bankrupting him (the fine was £500 for each vote). His seat was declared vacant a number of times, but he succeeded in winning re-election each time. But as a result of one attempt to enter the chamber he was imprisoned in the Clock Tower beneath the bell of Big Ben. It was Tory pressure that led to his release.
As suddenly as the controversy arose - it died. Lavin asserts that it was because Gladstone now needed Bradlaugh's vote, in a more tightly balanced House of Commons.
An interesting subject - in an engaging presentation. Don't miss it in October! (for more details, and to book - press here.)