Tuesday, March 04, 2008

FOR YOU TO READ. GRAB A SNACK AND SETTLE IN.

Hi, this is verbatim from wikipedia...

George Galloway (born 16 August 1954 in Dundee) is a Scottish politician, author and talkshow host noted for his left-wing views, confrontational style, and rhetorical skill. He has been a Member of Parliament (MP) since 1987 and currently represents Respect for the Bethnal Green and Bow constituency. He was previously a Labour Party MP for Glasgow Hillhead and for Glasgow Kelvin.

Galloway is perhaps best known for his vigorous campaign to overturn economic sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s and early 2000s and to avert the 2003 invasion of that country. He made visits there in 1994 and 2002. As part of a speech in his 1994 visit in which Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was in attendance, he said "Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability",[1] although Galloway has always claimed that he was addressing the Iraqi people. In his 2002 visit, as war talk and claims of weapons of mass destruction filled the airwaves, he said "we are determined that we are going to do everything we can to stop this rush over the cliff."[2]

He was later accused by a U.S. Senate Committee led by Norm Coleman of personally profiting from abuses of UN Oil-for-Food programme. He combatively countered the charges by accusing Coleman and other pro-war politicians of covering up the "theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth... on your watch" that had occurred under a post-invasion Coalition Provisional Authority, committed by "Halliburton and other American corporations... with the connivance of your own government."[3][4] He was expelled from the Labour Party in October 2003 when a party body decided that similarly strong statements he had made in opposition to the invasion had brought the party into disrepute.[5]

In January 2004, Galloway made his comeback as a founding member of Respect, a new political coalition to the left of Labour, in association with the Socialist Workers Party and other left-wing groups, anti-Iraq war activists such as Salma Yaqoob, and other figures on the British left such as film director Ken Loach. He won his seat in the 2005 general election, the first time Respect had contested a Parliamentary election. On 3 November 2007, the Socialist Workers' Party claimed that Galloway had announced he was splitting from Respect after an internal dispute.[6] Galloway denied this, and together with Respect chair Linda Smith, Vice Chair Salma Yaqoob and sixteen other members of the National Council, issued an invitation to a Respect Renewal conference, organized on the same day and time as the scheduled Respect conference.[7]

On 17 July 2007, Galloway was censured by the House of Commons Select Committee on Standards and Privileges, which recommended his suspension from the House for 18 days for "his unwillingness to cooperate fully with the Commissioner, and his calling into question of the Commissioner's and our own integrity [which] have in our view damaged the reputation of the House".[8] In response, Galloway commented: "Once more and yet again I have been cleared of taking a single penny or in any way personally benefiting from the former Iraqi regime through the oil for food programme or any other means ... What really upset them [the committee] is that I always defend myself.".[9] On July 23, 2007, during a debate on the Committee's recommendation, Galloway was ordered out of the House of Commons by the Speaker after making repeated attacks on the integrity of officers of the House.[10]




Early and personal life
Galloway was born in Dundee, Scotland, grew up in a Roman Catholic household, and was a keen amateur boxer. He attended Charleston Primary and Harris Academy, a nondenominational school. He was married from 1979 to 1999 to Elaine Fyffe, with whom he has a daughter, Lucy. He married Amineh Abu-Zayyad in 2000: Zayyad filed for divorce in 2005. In May 2007 Rima Husseini, his Lebanese former researcher and ex-partner, gave birth to a son, Zein.

Galloway states that he is a non-drinker from a non-drinking family. "My father didn’t drink alcohol and his father didn’t and my daughter doesn’t. I think it has a very deleterious effect on people".[11]


Labour Party organiser
Galloway joined the Labour Party at 13 years old and within five years was secretary of the Dundee West constituency party. His enthusiasm led him to become vice-chairman of the Labour Party in the city of Dundee and a member of the Scottish Executive Committee in 1975. On 5 May 1977, he contested his first election campaign in the Scottish district elections but failed to hold the safe Labour seat at Gillburn, Dundee. He was beaten by the Independent candidate Bunty Turley, who was a trade unionist running on the campaign slogan "enough is enough" after allegations were made about Galloway's personal and financial behaviour.[12] Galloway became the secretary organiser of Dundee Labour Party—the youngest ever Scottish chairman—in March 1981 at 26 years old.[13]

His support for the Palestinian cause began in 1974 when he met a Palestinian activist in Dundee; he supported the actions of Dundee City council which flew the Palestinian flag inside the City Chambers. He was involved in the twinning of Dundee with Nablus in 1980,[14] although he did not take part in the visit of Lord Provost Gowans, Ernie Ross MP and three city councillors to Nablus and Kuwait in April 1981.[13]

During 1981, Denis Healey, then deputy leader of the Labour Party, failed in a bid to remove Galloway from the list of Prospective Parliamentary Candidates following an article Galloway had written in Scottish Marxist supporting Communist Party affiliation with the Labour Party. Galloway successfully argued that this was his own personal viewpoint, not that of the Labour Party. Healey lost his motion by 13 votes to 5. He once quipped that, in order to overcome a £1.5 million deficit which had arisen in the city budget, he, Ernie Ross and leading councillors should be placed in the stocks in the city square: "we would allow people to throw buckets of water over us at 20p a time."[15]


War on Want
From November 1983 to 1987, Galloway was General Secretary of War On Want, a British charity that campaigns against poverty worldwide. In this post he was much travelled, especially to areas suffering famine; he wrote eye-witness accounts of the famine in Eritrea in 1985 which were published in the Sunday Times and the Spectator.[16]

The Daily Mirror accused him of living luxuriously at the charity's expense.[17] An independent auditor cleared him of misuse of funds,[18] though he did repay £1,720 in contested expenses.[19] He later reportedly won £155,000 from the Mirror in an unrelated libel lawsuit.[20]

More than two years after Galloway stepped down as General Secretary to serve as a Labour MP, the UK government's Charity Commission investigated War on Want, finding accounting irregularities from 1985 to 1989, but little evidence that money was used for non-charitable purposes. Galloway had been general secretary for the first three of those years. The commission said responsibility lay largely with auditors and did not single out individuals for blame.[18]


Parliamentary career

Member of Parliament, Glasgow
Galloway was selected as Labour candidate for the Glasgow Hillhead seat, then held by Roy Jenkins of the Social Democratic Party. He fought for a place on the Labour Party National Executive Committee in 1986; in a large field of candidates he finished as second from bottom. At the 1986 Labour Party Conference he made a strong attack on the Labour Party's Deputy Leader and Shadow Chancellor Roy Hattersley for not favouring exchange controls.

In the 1987 election, Galloway won Glasgow Hillhead from Jenkins with a majority of 3,251. Although now known for his leftwing views, Galloway was never a member of Labour's main leftist grouping of MPs, the Campaign Group.


Troubles within the Labour Party
Asked about a War on Want conference on Mykonos, Greece during his previous job, the new MP Galloway notoriously replied "I travelled to and spent lots of time with people in Greece, many of whom were women, some of whom were known carnally to me. I actually had sexual intercourse with some of the people in Greece." The statement put Galloway on the front pages of the tabloid press and in February 1988 the Executive Committee of his Constituency Labour Party passed a vote of no confidence in him.[21]

He went on to win reselection over Trish Godman (wife of fellow MP Norman Godman) in June 1989, but failed to get a majority of the electoral college on the first ballot. This was the worst result for any sitting Labour MP who was reselected; 13 out of the 26 members of the Constituency Party's Executive Committee resigned that August, indicating their dissatisfaction with the result.[22]

In 1990, a classified advertisement appeared in the Labour left weekly Tribune headed "Lost: MP who answers to the name of George", "balding and has been nicknamed gorgeous", claiming that the lost MP had been seen in Romania but had not been to a constituency meeting for a year. A telephone number was given which turned out to be for the Groucho Club in London, from which Galloway had recently been excluded (he has since been readmitted). Galloway threatened legal action and pointed out that he had been to five constituency meetings. He eventually settled for an out-of-court payment by Tribune.

The leadership election of the Labour Party in 1992 saw Galloway voting for fellow Scot John Smith for Leader and Margaret Beckett as Deputy Leader. In 1994 after Smith's death, Galloway declined to cast a vote in the leadership election (one of only three MPs to do so). In a debate with the leader of the Scottish National Party Alex Salmond, Galloway responded to one of Salmond's jibes against the Labour Party by declaring "I don't give a fuck what Tony Blair thinks."[22]

Although facing a challenge for the Labour nomination for the seat of Glasgow Kelvin in 1997, Galloway successfully defeated Shiona Waldron. He was unchallenged for the nomination in 2001.

In the 1997 and 2001 elections Galloway was the Labour candidate for the seat of Glasgow Kelvin, winning with majorities of over 16,000 and 12,000 respectively.


Expulsion from the Labour Party
Galloway made many aggressive and controversial statements in opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. For these, despite 34 years of membership and having held leadership positions, he was expelled from the Labour party. He reportedly said in a 28 March 2003 interview with Abu Dhabi TV that Tony Blair and George W. Bush had "lied to the British Air Force and Navy, when they said the battle of Iraq would be very quick and easy. They attacked Iraq like wolves...." and added, "... the best thing British troops can do is to refuse to obey illegal orders."[23] He called the Labour government "Tony Blair's lie machine."[24] His most controversial statement from the interview may have been "Iraq is fighting for all the Arabs. Where are the Arab armies?".[25]

The Observer newspaper said in 2003 that the Director for Public Prosecutions was considering a request to pursue Galloway under the Incitement to Disaffection Act, 1934.[26]

On 18 April The Sun published an interview with Tony Blair in which Blair said "His comments were disgraceful and wrong. The National Executive will deal with it." Citing Galloway's comments regarding the Iraq war, the General Secretary of the Labour Party suspended him from holding office in the party on 6 May 2003, pending a hearing on charges that he had violated the party's constitution by "bringing the Labour Party into disrepute through behaviour that is prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the Party". The National Constitutional Committee held a hearing on 22 October 2003, to consider the charges, taking evidence from Galloway himself, from other party witnesses, viewing media interviews, and hearing character testimony from (among others) veteran former Labour MP and ex-minister Tony Benn. The following day, the committee found the charge of bringing the party into disrepute proved, and expelled Galloway from the Labour Party forthwith. Galloway called the Committee's hearing "a show trial" and "a kangaroo court".[27]


2005 election
In January 2004 Galloway announced he would be working with members of the English Socialist Alliance and others under the name Respect - The Unity Coalition, generally referred to simply as Respect. Many commentators[attribution needed] were surprised by this development since Galloway had a track record of antipathy toward Trotskyists, and the largest component of Respect is the Socialist Workers Party, which broadly identifies itself as part of the Trotskyist political tradition. Some former members of the Socialist Alliance, including the Workers Liberty and Workers Power groups, objected to forming a coalition with Galloway, citing his political record, and his refusal to accept an average worker's wage, with Galloway claiming "I couldn’t live on three workers’ wages."[28]

He stood as the Respect candidate in London in the 2004 European Parliament elections, but failed to win a seat after receiving 91,175 of the 115,000 votes he needed.

After his expulsion, he had initially fuelled speculation that he might call a snap by-election before then, by resigning his parliamentary seat, saying:

“ If I were to resign this constituency and there was a by-election I can't guarantee that I would win, but I would guarantee that Tony Blair's candidate would surely lose. ”

Galloway later announced that he would not force a by-election and intended not to contest the next general election in Glasgow. Galloway's Glasgow Kelvin seat was split between three neighbouring constituencies for the May 2005 general election. One of these, the redrawn Glasgow Central constituency might have been his best chance to win, but had his long-time friend Mohammad Sarwar, the first Muslim Labour MP and a strong opponent of the Iraq War in place; Galloway did not wish to challenge him. After the European election results became known, Galloway announced that he would stand in Bethnal Green and Bow, the area where Respect had its strongest election results and where the sitting Labour MP, Oona King, supported the Iraq War. On 2 December, despite speculation that he might stand in Newham, he confirmed that he was to be the candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow.

The ensuing electoral campaign in the seat proved to be a difficult one with heated rhetoric. It was reported by the BBC that Galloway had himself been threatened with death by extreme Islamists from the banned organisation al-Ghurabaa. All the major candidates united in condemning the threats and violence.[29]

On May 5, Galloway won the seat by 823 votes and made a fiery acceptance speech, saying that Tony Blair had the blood of 100,000 people on his hands and denouncing the returning officer over alleged discrepancies in the electoral process. When challenged in a subsequent televised interview by Jeremy Paxman as to whether he was happy to have removed one of the few black women in Parliament, Galloway replied "I don't believe that people get elected because of the colour of their skin. I believe people get elected because of their record and because of their policies. So move on to your next question."[30][31]

Oona King later told the Today programme that she found Paxman's line of question inappropriate. "He shouldn't be barred from running against me because I'm a black woman ... I was not defined, or did not wish to be defined, by either my ethnicity or religious background."[32]

Constitutional Affairs minister David Lammy later criticised Galloway for the "manner in which he won that seat, whipping up racial tensions, dividing some of the poorest people in this country, I think was obscene." Lammy further called him a "carpetbagger."[33]

"It's good to be back", Galloway said on being sworn in as MP for Bethnal Green after the May election. He pledged to represent "the people that New Labour has abandoned" and to "speak for those who have nobody else to speak for them."


Parliamentary participation statistics
Galloway's participation in Parliamentary activity fell to minimal levels after he was suspended and later expelled from the Labour Party. After speaking in a debate on Iraq on 25 March 2003, Galloway did not intervene in any way in Parliamentary debates or ask any oral questions for the remainder of the Parliament and his participation in House of Commons Divisions was among the lowest of any MP (the website "They Work For You.com"[34] has more details). Since being elected in 2005, his participation rate has remained low. At the end of 2005 he had participated in only 15% of votes in the House of Commons since the general election, placing him 634 out of 645 MPs - of the MPs below him in the rankings, one is the former Prime Minister Tony Blair, five are Sinn Féin members who have an abstentionist policy towards taking their seats, three are the speaker and deputy speakers and therefore ineligible to vote, and two have died since the election. Galloway claims a record of unusual activity at a "grass roots" level. His own estimate is that he has made 1,100 public speeches between September 2001 and May 2005.[35]

In November 2005 Galloway's commitment to Parliamentary activity was again called into question when he failed to attend the Report Stage of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill in the House of Commons, despite Respect having urged its members to put pressure on MPs to attend.[36] It was subsequently confirmed that Galloway had been carrying out a speaking engagement in Cork, Ireland on the night (Galloway's spokesman asserted the performance was "uncancellable"[37]).

Although that stage of the bill failed by two votes, it initially appeared that the government won by a majority of only one, in which Galloway's attendance would have tied the vote. However, even in the case of a tie the vote would not have resulted in defeat for the government, because the vote was on an amendment (tightening the standard on what constitutes incitement to terrorism) and the amendment would not have passed. It would have taken three more "aye" votes to pass the amendment. All the same, Respect later put out a statement stating that it regretted the vote had been missed. The statement further claimed that Galloway had cleared his diary for all the subsequent votes on the bill.[38] Galloway did attend a subsequent debate on the Bill, and voted against[39] the final reading of the bill, which passed. The last time he voted in Westminster was 11th June 2007 [40] and the last time he spoke in the house was 23rd July 2007 [41]


The next General Election
On 10 August 2007, Galloway confirmed he would stand in Poplar and Limehouse[42][43] where the Labour Party has a notional majority of 3,942.[44] The Labour candidate will be the current Poplar and Canning Town MP Jim Fitzpatrick. Galloway said he had planned to stand down from Parliament at the next election, but was prompted to stay on and fight to win the neighbouring East London constituency after he felt he was unfairly suspended from Parliament for 18 days in October 2007.


Political views and characteristics


Galloway has a reputation as a fiery left-winger and advocates redistribution of wealth, greater spending on welfare benefits, and extensive nationalisation of large industries. He opposes Scottish independence and supports the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Raised as a Roman Catholic, he left the church for a time but returned to Christian belief in his mid-20s, and he is opposed to abortion, although he supports Respect's pro-choice stance.

In 1994 he voted to support the equalisation of the age of consent for homosexuality (which was then 21 years) with that for heterosexuality at 16 years[7], and then voted against a reduction of the homosexual age of consent to 18[8]. He voted in favour of permitting unmarried and gay couples to adopt children. [9] Critics have claimed that his involvement in the leadership of Respect - which made no explicit mention of gay rights in its 2005 election manifesto[45] and accepted donations from certain Islamic, homophobic sources[46] - raise questions about commitment to those issues. However, Respect's 2005 conference which Galloway took part in, resolved that explicit defence of equal rights and calls for the end to all discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people would be made in all of its manifestos and principal election materials. [10]

Galloway voted in support of the government's original draft of the religious hatred bill, which many people had feared would restrict artistic freedom and free speech. [11].

In the 2001 Parliament, he voted against the Whip 27 times. During the 2001-02 session he was the 9th most rebellious Labour MP. He has attracted most attention for his comments on foreign policy, taking a special interest in Libya, Pakistan, Iraq, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Galloway is a prominent critic of Israel, frequently condemning Israel's military actions. In an interview with The Guardian,[47] Galloway stated "I am on the anti-imperialist left... If you are asking did I support the Soviet Union, yes I did. Yes, I did support the Soviet Union, and I think the disappearance of the Soviet Union is the biggest catastrophe of my life. If there was a Soviet Union today, we would not be having this conversation about plunging into a new war in the Middle East, and the US would not be rampaging around the globe."[48].

At the time of the 1999 coup in Pakistan, he wrote, "In poor third world countries like Pakistan, politics is too important to be left to petty squabbling politicians. Pakistan is always on the brink of breaking apart into its widely disparate components. Only the armed forces can really be counted on to hold such a country together... Democracy is a means, not an end in itself and it has a bad name on the streets of Karachi and Lahore." [As published in the Mail on Sunday, November 10, 1999].

Nick Cohen has suggested he is a right-winger like Oswald Mosley for lining up with Ba'athist and Islamic fundamentalist regimes hostile to principles of the left.[49]

Galloway expressed support for the Syrian presence of Lebanon 5 months before it ended, telling the Daily Star of Lebanon "Syrian troops in Lebanon maintain stability and protect the country from Israel." In the same article he expressed his opposition to UN resolution 1559 which urged the Lebanese Government to establish control over all its territory.[50]

Galloway has expressed support for Morocco's occupation of Western Sahara.[51][52]

He also supports Irish unification[citation needed]. In the Scottish Parliament election, 2007, George Galloway supported Solidarity,[53] despite not supporting all their policies, such as Scottish independence

Galloway opposed the 1991 Gulf War and was critical of the effect the subsequent sanctions had on the people of Iraq. He visited Iraq several times and met senior government figures. His involvement caused certain critics to deride him as the "member for Baghdad North". In 1994, Galloway faced some of his strongest criticism on his return from a Middle-Eastern visit during which he had met Saddam Hussein "to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war." At the meeting, he reported the support given to Saddam by the people of the Gaza Strip and ended his speech with the phrase "Sir: I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability,"[54] although Galloway maintains that he was misinterpreted.[55] Galloway's speech was translated for Hussein, and Anasal-Tikriti, a friend of Galloways and a Respect candidate, spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain said: "I understand Arabic and it [Galloway's salutation] was taken completely out of context. When he said "you" he meant the Iraqi people, he was saluting their indefatigability, their resolve against sanctions. Even the interpreter got it right and, in Arabic, says salutes the stand of the Iraqi people'." [12] Additionally he reportedly said "hatta al-nasr, hatta al-nasr, hatta al-Quds" (Arabic for "until victory, until victory, until Jerusalem").

In a House of Commons debate on 6 March 2002, Foreign Office Minister Ben Bradshaw said of Galloway that he was "not just an apologist, but a mouthpiece, for the Iraqi regime over many years." Galloway called the Minister a liar and refused to withdraw, resulting in the suspension of the sitting. Bradshaw later withdrew his allegation, and Galloway apologised for using unparliamentary language. In August 2002, Galloway returned to Iraq and met Saddam Hussein for a second time. According to Galloway, the intention of the trip was to try and persuade Hussein to re-admit Hans Blix, and the United Nations weapons inspectors into the country.[56]

Giving evidence in his libel case against the Daily Telegraph newspaper in 2004, Galloway testified that he regarded Saddam as a "bestial dictator" and would have welcomed his removal from power, but not by means of a military attack on Iraq. Galloway also pointed that he was a prominent critic of Saddam Hussein's regime in the 1980s, as well as of the role of Margaret Thatcher's government in supporting arms sales to Iraq during the Iran/Iraq war. Labour MP Tam Dalyell said during the controversy over whether Galloway should be expelled from the Labour Party that "in the mid-1980s there was only one MP that I can recollect making speeches about human rights in Iraq and this was George Galloway."[57] When the issue of Galloway's meetings with Saddam Hussein is raised, including before the U.S. Senate, Galloway has argued that he had met Saddam "exactly the same number of times as U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns."[58]

In 1999, Galloway was criticised for spending Christmas in Iraq with Tariq Aziz, then Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister. In the 17 May 2005, hearing of the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Galloway stated that he had had many meetings with Aziz, and characterized their relationship as friendly.[59] After the fall of Saddam, he continued to praise Aziz, calling him "an eminent diplomatic and intellectual person." In 2006 a video surfaced showing Galloway enthusiastically greeting Uday Hussein, Saddam's eldest son, with the title of "Excellency" at Uday's palace in 1999.[60] "The two men also made unflattering comments about the United States and joked about losing weight, going bald and how difficult it is to give up smoking cigars," according to The Scotsman.[61]


Galloway is Vice-President of the Stop the War Coalition (StWC). He is actively involved, often speaking on StWC platforms at anti-war demonstrations. During a 9 March 2005, interview at the University of Dhaka campus Galloway called for a global alliance between Muslims and progressives: "Not only do I think it’s possible but I think it is vitally necessary and I think it is happening already. It is possible because the progressive movement around the world and the Muslims have the same enemies. Their enemies are the Zionist occupation, American occupation, British occupation of poor countries mainly Muslim countries."[62]


Views on Blair and Bush
At the national conference of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, on 30 June 2003, he apologised for describing George Bush as a "wolf", saying that to do so defamed wolves:

“ No wolf would commit the sort of crimes against humanity that George Bush committed against the people of Iraq. ”

On 20 November 2004, George Galloway gave an interview on Abu-Dhabi TV in which he said:

“ The people who invaded and destroyed Iraq and have murdered more than a million Iraqi people by sanctions and war will burn in Hell in the hell-fires, and their name in history will be branded as killers and war criminals for all time. Fallujah is a Guernica, Falluaja is a Stalingrad, and Iraq is in flames as a result of the actions of these criminals. Not the resistance, not anybody else but these criminals who invaded and fell like wolves upon the people of Iraq. And by the way, those Arab regimes which helped them to do it will burn in the same hell-fires.[63] ”

On 20 June 2005, he appeared on Al Jazeera TV to lambast these two leaders and others.

“ Bush, and Blair, and the prime minister of Japan, and Silvio Berlusconi, these people are criminals, and they are responsible for mass murder in the world, for the war, and for the occupation, through their support for Israel, and through their support for a globalised capitalist economic system, which is the biggest killer the world has ever known. It has killed far more people than Adolf Hitler. It has killed far more people than George Bush. The economic system which these people support, which leaves most of the people in the world hungry, and without clean water to drink. So we're going to put them on trial, the leaders, when they come. They think they're coming for a holiday in a beautiful country called Scotland; in fact, they're coming to their trial....Ancient freedoms, which we had for hundreds of years, are being taken away from us under the name of the war on terror, when the real big terrorists are the governments of Britain and the United States. They are the real rogue states breaking international law, invading other people's countries, killing their children in the name of anti-terrorism, when in fact, all they're achieving is to make more terrorists in the world, not less, to make the world more dangerous, rather than less.[64] ”

Galloway has accused Tony Blair of "waging war on Muslims at home and abroad".

On 3 February 2006, Galloway was refused entry to Egypt at Cairo Airport and was detained "on grounds of national security", where he had been invited to 'give evidence' at a 'mock trial' of Bush and Blair. After being detained overnight, he said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak "apologised on behalf of the Egyptian people", and he was allowed to enter the country. After initial derogatory comments from Galloway and a spokesman from his Respect party regarding Mubarak's pro-western stance and ties to Bush and Blair, Galloway later commented: "It was a most gracious apology which I accept wholeheartedly. I consider the matter now closed" (see [13], [14]).

In an interview with Piers Morgan for GQ Magazine in May 2006, Galloway was asked whether a suicide bomb attack on Tony Blair with "no other casualties" would be morally justifiable "as revenge for the war on Iraq?". He answered "Yes it would be morally justified. I am not calling for it, but if it happened it would be of a wholly different moral order to the events of 7/7. It would be entirely logical and explicable, and morally equivalent to ordering the deaths of thousands of innocent people in Iraq as Blair did." He further stated that if he knew about such a plan that he would inform the relevant authorities, saying: "I would [tell the police], because such an operation would be counterproductive because it would just generate a new wave of anti-Muslim, anti-Arab sentiment whipped up by the press. It would lead to new draconian anti-terror laws, and would probably strengthen the resolve of the British and American services in Iraq rather than weaken it. So yes, I would inform the authorities."[65] Some news analysts, notably Christopher Hitchens, took this to be a call for an attack while appearing not to.[66]


July 2005 London bombings
In the House of Commons, on the day of the 7 July 2005 London bombings that killed 56 and injured hundreds, and following a visit to the Royal London Hospital in his constituency where many of the victims had been taken, Galloway condemned the attacks strongly, but argued that they could not be separated from the hatred and bitterness felt among Muslims because of injustices in Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan, including injustices, he said, suffered as a result of British foreign policy:

“ I condemn the act that was committed this morning. I have no need to speculate about its authorship. It is absolutely clear that Islamist extremists, inspired by the al-Qaeda world outlook, are responsible. I condemn it utterly as a despicable act, committed against working people on their way to work, without warning, on tubes and buses. Let there be no equivocation: the primary responsibility for this morning's bloodshed lies with the perpetrators of those acts... The hon. Member for North Durham (Mr. Jones), in an otherwise fine speech, described today's events as "unpredictable". They were not remotely unpredictable. Our own security services predicted them and warned the Government that if we [invaded Iraq] we would be at greater risk from terrorist attacks such as the one that we have suffered this morning... Despicable, yes; but not unpredictable. It was entirely predictable and, I predict, it will not be the last.[67][68] ”


Winding up the debate for the government in the last moments allotted, Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram described Galloway's remarks as "disgraceful" and accused Galloway of "dipping his poisonous tongue in a pool of blood."[69] No time remained for Galloway to intervene and he ran afoul of the Deputy Speaker when trying to make a point of order about Ingram's attack. He later went on to describe Ingram as a "thug" who had committed a "foul-mouthed, deliberately timed, last-10-seconds smear."[70] The men had previously clashed over claims in Galloway's autobiography (see below).

An orator
Galloway is widely viewed as an adept wordsmith and debater. For example, according to the Boston Globe[71] he is "known, even in the highly articulate world of British politics, for his memorable turns of phrase," whereas the Times[72] finds that he has "the gift of the Glasgow gab, a love of the stage and an inexhaustible fund of self-belief." The Guardian[73] finds him "renowned for his colourful rhetoric and combative debating style" and the Spectator once awarded him Debater of the Year. Sometimes this general acknowledgment of Galloway's rhetorical capacity is accompanied by criticism that he is evasive (Scotsman,[74] "ducked the question"). His remarks can be sampled at Wikiquotes.[75]


Controversies at university debating societies
On 2 November 2006, The Times reported that Galloway was in a fracas at the Oxford Union. [15] He was there to discuss his book (Galloway, George (2006). Fidel Castro Handbook. MQ Publications. ISBN 1-84072-688-1. ). His views on democracy in Cuba were barracked by the audience, whom he described as "hunting, shooting and fishing types" and from the "rugby club". Three former state school students who met him afterwards and disputed this description, allege that Galloway said: "I don’t represent anyone’s views. I represent me. I don’t give a fuck what anyone else thinks."[76] and: "You are confusing me with someone who gives a fuck." When the students tried to get Galloway to apologise, he asked for them to be removed from the room, but they left of their own accord.[77] Before the Union appearance, he had granted 'Oxford Student' newspaper journalist Imran Jina an exclusive interview in which he claimed he would be well-received by his audience. His comments have been criticised by several MPs, including Boris Johnson, who said: "there’s no need to swear"; and Steven Pound, who said: "If he wishes to be respected by anyone other than Fidel Castro he should apologise." [16] [17] [18]

On the 6 November 2006 in a debate at the University College Cork, Ireland, Philosophical Society, speaking in proposition of the motion "That this house believes the US foreign policy is the greatest crime since World War II", Galloway controversially stormed out after being accused of collusion with dictators by the opposition speaker; Irish film and television producer Gerry Gregg. Galloway confronted Gregg directly and insisted that he withdraw the allegations. After Gregg, a former member of Sinn Féin and the Workers' Party, refused to withdraw the comments, Galloway left the auditorium and abandoned the debate. Many of the audience of 500 walked out in sympathy with the MP. Galloway threatened legal action and informed Gregg that his solicitor would contact him the following morning. He also remarked that Gregg would probably be able to afford the lawsuit with an abundance of counterfeited money. The debate continued and the motion was defeated by those present by a clear margin, mainly due to the fact that most of Galloway's supporters had already left. [19]


Sectarian attack
On 10 June 2007 Galloway claimed that he was the victim of a sectarian attack at Glasgow Airport.[78][79] He believes that his attackers were on the way home from attending an Orange Order parade in London and that they attacked him because he is a Celtic fan (Celtic is generally the team supported by Catholics).[80] However, no arrest was made in connection with this.


Corruption allegations and other controversies

Mariam Appeal
In 1998 Galloway founded the Mariam Appeal, intended "to campaign against sanctions on Iraq which are having disastrous effects on the ordinary people of Iraq". The campaign was named after Mariam Hamza, a single child flown by the fund from Iraq to Britain to receive treatment for leukaemia. The intention was to raise awareness of the suffering and death of hundreds of thousands of other Iraqi children due to poor health conditions and lack of suitable medicines and facilities, and to campaign for the lifting of the Iraq sanctions that many maintained were responsible for that situation.

The fund received scrutiny during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, after a complaint that Galloway used some of the donation money to pay his travel expenses.[81] Galloway said that the expenses were incurred in his capacity as the Appeal's chairman. Although the Mariam Appeal was never a registered charity and never intended to be such, it was investigated by the Charity Commission. The report of this year-long inquiry, published in June 2004,[82] found that the Mariam Appeal was doing charitable work (and so ought to have registered with them), but did not substantiate allegations that any funds had been misused.

A further Charity Commission Report published on 7 June 2007 found that the Appeal had received funds from Fawaz Zureikat that originated from the Oil For Food programme, and concluded that: "Although Mr Galloway, Mr Halford and Mr Al-Mukhtar have confirmed that they were unaware of the source of Mr Zureikat’s donations, the Commission has concluded that the charity trustees should have made further inquiries when accepting such large single and cumulative donations to satisfy themselves as to their origin and legitimacy. The Commission’s conclusion is that the charity trustees did not properly discharge their duty of care as trustees to the Appeal in respect of these donations. They added: "The Commission is also concerned, having considered the totality of the evidence before it, that Mr Galloway may also have known of the connection between the Appeal and the Programme".[83] Galloway responded: "I've always disputed the Commission's retrospective view that a campaign to win a change in national and international policy - a political campaign - was, in fact, a charity."[84]


Oil for Food

Daily Telegraph
On 22 April 2003, the Daily Telegraph published an article describing documents found by its reporter David Blair in the ruins of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry. The documents purport to be records of meetings between Galloway and Iraqi intelligence agents, and state that he had received £375,000 per year from the proceeds of the Oil for Food programme.[85] Galloway completely denied the story, and pointed to the nature of the discovery within an unguarded, bombed-out building as being questionable. He instigated legal action against the newspaper, which was heard in the High Court from 14 November 2004 (HQ03X0206, George Galloway MP vs. Telegraph Group Ltd.)

On 2 December, Justice David Eady ruled that the story had been "seriously defamatory", and that the Telegraph was "obliged to compensate Mr Galloway... and to make an award for the purposes of restoring his reputation". Galloway was awarded £150,000 damages plus costs estimated to total £1.2 million. (Only in England) The court did not grant leave to appeal; in order to appeal in the absence of leave, the defendants would have to petition the House of Lords.

The libel case was regarded by both sides as an important test of the Reynolds qualified-privilege defence.[86] The Daily Telegraph did not attempt to claim justification (a defence in which the defendant bears the onus of proving that the defamatory reports are true): "It has never been the Telegraph's case to suggest that the allegations contained in these documents are true".[87] Instead, the paper sought to argue that it acted responsibly because the allegations it reported were of sufficient public interest to outweigh the damage caused to Galloway's reputation. However, the court ruled that, "It was the defendants' primary case that their coverage was no more than 'neutral reportage' ... but the nature, content and tone of their coverage cannot be so described."

The issue of whether the documents were genuine was likewise not at issue at the trial. However,it later transpired that the expert hired by Galloways lawyers, a Forensic expert named Oliver Thorne said ""In my opinion the evidence found fully supports that the vast majority of the submitted documents are authentic."[88] He added "It should be noted that I am unable to comment on the veracity of the information within the disputed Telegraph documents, whether or not they are authentic ."

The Telegraph lost their appeal on 25 January 2006, the same day as Galloway's Big Brother eviction, and on 15 February 2006, the newspaper announced it would not be seeking leave to appeal.


Others
The Christian Science Monitor also published a story on 25 April 2003, stating that they had documentary evidence that he had received "more than ten million dollars" from the Iraqi regime. However, on 20 June 2003, the Monitor reported[89] that their own investigation had concluded the documents were sophisticated forgeries, and apologised. Galloway rejected the newspaper's apology, asserted that the affair was a conspiracy against him, and continued a libel claim against the paper.

The Christian Science Monitor settled the claim, paying him an undisclosed sum in damages, on 19 March 2004.[90][91] It emerged that these documents had first been offered to the Daily Telegraph, but they had rejected them. The documents' origin remains obscure.

In January 2004, a further set of allegations were made in al-Mada, a newspaper in Iraq. The newspaper claimed to have found documents in the Iraqi national oil corporation showing that Galloway received (through an intermediary) some of the profits arising from the sale of 19.5 million barrels (3,100,000 m³) of oil. Galloway acknowledged that money had been paid into the Mariam Appeal by Iraqi businessmen who had profited from the UN-run programme, but denied benefiting personally, and maintained that, in any case, there was nothing illicit about this:

“ It is hard to see what is dishonourable, let alone "illicit", about Arab nationalist businessmen donating some of the profits they made from legitimate UN-controlled business with Iraq to anti-sanctions campaigns, as opposed to, say, keeping their profits for themselves. ”

The report of the Iraq Survey Group published in October 2004 claimed that Galloway was one of the recipients of a fund used by Iraq to buy influence among foreign politicians. Galloway denied receiving any money from Saddam Hussein's regime. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards had begun an investigation into George Galloway but suspended it when Galloway launched legal action. On December 14, it was announced that this investigation would resume.


U.S. Senate

Allegations
In May 2005, a U.S. Senate committee report[92] accused Galloway along with former French minister Charles Pasqua of receiving the right to buy oil under the UN's oil-for-food scheme. The report was issued by the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Senator Norm Coleman, a Republican from Minnesota. The report cited further documents from the Iraqi oil ministry and interviews with Iraqi officials.
Coleman's committee said Pasqua had received allocations worth 11 million barrels from 1999 to 2000, and Galloway received allocations worth 20 million barrels from 2000 to 2003. The allegations against Pasqua and Galloway, both outspoken opponents of U.N. sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s, have been made before, including in an October report by U.S. arms inspector Charles Duelfer as well as in the various purported documents described earlier in this section. But Coleman's report provided several new details. It also included information from interrrogations of former high-ranking officials in U.S. custody, including former Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz and former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan. Among the claims is that there is new evidence to suggest that the Mariam Appeal, a children's leukaemia charity founded by Galloway, was in fact used to conceal oil payments. The report cites Ramadan as saying under interrogation that Galloway was allocated oil "because of his opinions about Iraq."


Socialist Worker[93] reported what they say is evidence that the key Iraqi oil ministry documents regarding oil allocations, in which Galloway's name appears six times (contracts M/08/35, M/09/23,[94] M/10/38, M/11/04,[95] M/12/14, M/13/48[96]) have been tampered with. They published a copy of contract M/09/23 and allege that George Galloway's name appears to have been added in a different font and at a different angle to the rest of the text on that line. In these documents (relating to oil allocations 8-13), Galloway is among just a few people whose nationality is never identified, whilst Zureikat is the only one whose nationality is identified in one instance but not in others.[97] Socialist Worker is a publication of the Socialist Workers Party, which at the time was in alliance with Galloway in RESPECT - the Unity Coalition.


Galloway's response
On 17 May 2005, the committee held a hearing concerning specific allegations (of which Galloway was one part) relating to improprieties surrounding the Oil-for-Food programme.[98] Attending Galloway's oral testimony and inquiring of him were two of the thirteen committee members: the chair (Coleman) and the ranking Democrat (Carl Levin).[99]

Upon Galloway's arrival in the US, he told Reuters, "I have no expectation of justice from a group of Christian fundamentalist and Zionist activists under the chairmanship of a neo-con George Bush". Galloway described Coleman as a "pro-war, neo-con hawk and the lickspittle of George W. Bush", who, he said, sought revenge against anyone who did not support the invasion of Iraq.

He questioned the reliability of evidence given by former Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, stating that the circumstances of his captivity by American forces call into question the authenticity of the remarks. Galloway also pointed out an error in the report, where documents by The Daily Telegraph were said to have covered an earlier period from those held by the Senate. In fact the report's documents referred to the same period as those used by the The Daily Telegraph, though Galloway pointed out that the presumed forgeries pertaining to the Christian Science Monitor report did refer to an earlier period.

Galloway also denounced the invasion of Iraq as having been based on "a pack of lies" in his Senate testimony. The U.S. media, in reporting his appearance, emphasized his blunt remarks on the war. The British media gave generally more positive coverage; TV presenter Anne Robinson said Galloway "quite frankly put the pride back in British politics" when introducing him for a prime time talk show.[101][102]

The transcript of Galloway's evidence to the Senate was added to the Senate Committee's website but removed approximately 24 hours later, with the observation that "Mr Galloway did not submit a written statement".[103][104][105]


Alleged false or misleading testimony
A report by the then-majority Republican Party staff of the United States Senate Committee on Investigations published in October 2005 asserted that Galloway had given false "or misleading"[106] testimony under oath when appearing before them. The report exhibits bank statements it claims show that £85,000 of proceeds from the Oil-for-Food Programme had been paid to Galloway's then-wife Amineh Abu-Zayyad. Galloway reiterated his denial of the charges and challenged the U.S. Senate committee to charge him with perjury. He claimed Coleman's motive was revenge over the embarrassment of his appearance before the committee in May.[107][108][109]


Suspension from the House of Commons
On July 17, 2007, following a four-year inquiry, the House of Commons Select Committee on Standards and Privileges published its sixth report, in which it found that Galloway's use of parliamentary resources to support his work on the Mariam Appeal "went beyond what was reasonable". However, the committee concluded that there was "no evidence" that Galloway gained any personal benefit from either the former Iraqi regime, or from the Oil-for-Food Programme.

“ I have not found evidence that Mr Galloway has, directly and personally, unlawfully received moneys from the former Iraqi regime. I have been given evidence by Dr Al-Chalabi of a payment by him of $120,000 to Mr Galloway's former wife, Dr Abu-Zayyad, which derived from a commission payment Dr Al-Chalabi received under the programme. As I do not have access to the bank accounts in question, I do not know whether Mr Galloway benefited in any way from this payment. Nor do I know whether Mr Galloway benefited from a payment of $150,000 to Dr Abu-Zayyad which the US Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations found to have been made by Mr Fawaz Zureikat out of oil contract commission[110] ”

On July 17, 2007, following a four-year inquiry, the House of Commons Select Committee on Standards and Privileges published its sixth report, in which it found that Galloway's use of parliamentary resources to support his work on the Mariam Appeal "went beyond what was reasonable". However, the committee concluded that there was "no evidence" that Galloway gained any personal benefit from either the former Iraqi regime, or from the Oil-for-Food Programme. However it did not examine the bank account of Galloway's former wife or their joint account.

“ Had these been the only matters before us, we would have confined ourselves to seeking an apology to the House. However, Mr Galloway's conduct aimed at concealing the true source of Iraqi funding of the Mariam Appeal, his conduct towards Mr David Blair and others involved in this inquiry, his unwillingness to cooperate fully with the Commissioner, and his calling into question of the Commissioner's and our own integrity have in our view damaged the reputation of the House. In accordance with precedent, we recommend that he apologise to the House, and be suspended from its service for a period of eighteen actual sitting days. As the House is shortly to go into its Summer Recess, we further recommend that Mr Galloway's period of suspension should begin on October 8, the day it resumes.[8] ”

In response, Galloway stated "The Committee appear utterly oblivious to the grotesque irony of a pro-sanctions and pro-war Committee of a pro-sanctions and pro-war Parliament passing judgment on the work of their opponents, especially in the light of the bloody march of events in Iraq since this inquiry began four years ago. They describe that as questioning their integrity and bringing Parliament into disrepute. The House would do well to honestly calibrate exactly how its reputation on all matters concerning the war in Iraq stands with the public before deciding who precisely has brought it into disrepute."[111] At a press conference following publication of the report, Galloway stated "To be deprived of the company for 18 days of the honourable ladies and gentleman behind me [in parliament] will be painful ... but I'm intending to struggle on regardless... What really upset them [the committee] is that I always defend myself... I am not a punchbag. If you aim low blows at me, I'll fight back".[9]


Criticism of anti-Israel statements
Some of Galloway's specific comments regarding Israel have been criticized. At a July 22, 2006 demonstration (and later in a Socialist Worker op-ed),[112] Galloway stated "Hezbollah has never been a terrorist organisation!"; to which the National Union of Students of the United Kingdom passed a motion condemning Galloway for this. The NUS motion said Galloway is "clearly not ignorant of Hezbollah’s history of violence and the killing of innocents..."[113] The NUS wrote two letters to Galloway, explaining their condemnation for his praise of Nasrallah who "has called for the killing of Jews...worldwide" and "Hezbollah is an organisation with a history of terrorism." The NUS also noted they are not "accusing [him] of being antisemitic or being a Holocaust denier. What we do condemn is your open support for a leader and an organisation that is antisemitic, terrorist and denies the holocaust."[114]

In an interview Galloway had with Alex Jones, Galloway blamed Israel for creating "conditions in the Arab countries and in some European countries to stampede Jewish people ... into the Zionist state.” Jones then alleged that the "Zionists" funded Hitler, to which Galloway replied that Zionists used the Jewish people "to create this little settler state on the Mediterranean," whose purpose was "to act as an advance guard for their own interests in the Arab world..."[115] Engage included commentary on the interview that included: "Critically, however, this 21st century Protocols claims to be pro-Jewish; and has studiously replaced 'The Jews' with new bogeymen, 'The Zionists'," and that the interview is a "perversion of past and present Jewish Zionist life".[116] Labour Liverpool Riverside MP Louise Ellman, who has been derided by Galloway as “Israel’s MP on Merseyside,” said: “I think this is just another demonstration of George Galloway’s total hostility towards Jewish national identity and self-determination.” Eric Moonman, former Labour MP and president of the Zionist Federation, characterized Galloway's comments as “manipulating many of the facts,” and warned that "we must not underestimate the way in which he can influence groups of people who are somewhat naive about the Middle East and Zionism.” Stan Urman, Director of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, a group which represents 856,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries, said: “How does one explain pogroms in 1912 and 1932 well before the establishment of the State of Israel?... His comments do not stand the test of historical fact.” Galloway told the Jewish News that he "[stands] by all those comments," and that Zionism "has turned the people of Einstein and Epstein into one apparently represented by Sharon and Netanyahu.”[117]

In a series of speeches broadcast on Arab television, Galloway described Jerusalem and Baghdad as being "raped" by "foreigners". Ronnie Fraser of the Academic Friends of Israel interpreted Galloway's statement about Jerusalem to mean that he was referring to the Jewish people, as opposed to the State of Israel.[118] Galloway has consistently argued against confusing anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, and has condemned anti-Semitism in unequivocal terms.

Galloway was introduced as “a former member of the British Houses of Parliament” during a live interview with Qatari Al-Jazeera television, to which he responded: “I am still a member of parliament and was re-elected five times. On the last occasion I was re-elected despite all the efforts made by the British government, the Zionist movement and the newspapers and news media which are controlled by Zionism.” Mark Gardner, Director of Communications at the Community Security Trust, said, “This is despicable language for a Member of Parliament to use. Suggestions of Jewish media control can only give encouragement to anti-semites of every type". Ben Novick, Director of Media Relations at BICOM, dismissed Galloway’s allegations about "Zionist control" of the media, adding: “We hope that Al-Jazeera’s premonition of Galloway as a former MP will soon become a reality.”[119]


Support for Soviet Union
Galloway once stated "If you are asking did I support the Soviet Union, yes I did. Yes, I did support the Soviet Union, and I think the disappearance of the Soviet Union is the biggest catastrophe of my life. If there was a Soviet Union today, we would not be having this conversation about plunging into a new war in the Middle East, and the US would not be rampaging around the globe."[120]


Publishing/media activities

Asian Voice
Galloway has been involved in several publishing companies. He owned Asian Voice, which published a newspaper called East from 1996. It later transpired that the Pakistan Government was funding Galloway's company Asian Voice to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds."Documents show that the Pakistan government agreed an initial budget for the weekly newspaper of £547,000. According to a memorandum dated January 2, 1996, the Pakistan government proposed to "covertly sponsor" the publication, with money allocated to "the Secret Fund of the High Commissioner for Pakistan in the UK as a special grant for the project".[121] The Commons Committee cleared Galloway of any wrongdoing in this matter.[122]


Autobiography
His autobiography, I'm Not The Only One, was published on 28 April 2004. The book's title is a quotation from "Imagine" by John Lennon. Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram applied for an interim interdict to prevent the book's publication. Ingram asserted that Galloway's text, which stated that Ingram "played the flute in a sectarian, anti-Catholic, Protestant-supremacist Orange Order band", was in bad faith and defamatory, although Ingram's lawyers conceded that for a year as a teenager he had been a member of a junior Orange Lodge in Barlanark, Glasgow, and had attended three parades. The Judge, Lord Kingarth, decided that he should refuse to grant an interim interdict, that the balance of the arguments favoured Galloway's publisher and that the phrase "sectarian, anti-Catholic, Protestant-supremacist" was fair comment on that organisation. Although Ingram was not and never had been a flute-player, the defending advocate observed that "playing the flute carries no obvious defamatory imputation ... it is not to the discredit of anyone that he plays the flute." The judge ruled that Ingram should pay the full court costs of the hearing.[123]

Here is the full text of Galloway's response the United States Senate:

May 18 2005

"Senator, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader. and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one - and neither has anyone on my behalf.

Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice.

Now I want to deal with the pages that relate to me in this dossier and I want to point out areas where there are - let's be charitable and say errors. Then I want to put this in the context where I believe it ought to be. On the very first page of your document about me you assert that I have had 'many meetings' with Saddam Hussein. This is false.

I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.

As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country - a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defence made of his.
I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials were going in and doing commerce.

You will see from the official parliamentary record, Hansard, from the 15th March 1990 onwards, voluminous evidence that I have a rather better record of opposition to Saddam Hussein than you do and than any other member of the British or American governments do.

Now you say in this document, you quote a source, you have the gall to quote a source, without ever having asked me whether the allegation from the source is true, that I am 'the owner of a company which has made substantial profits from trading in Iraqi oil'.

Senator, I do not own any companies, beyond a small company whose entire purpose, whose sole purpose, is to receive the income from my journalistic earnings from my employer, Associated Newspapers, in London. I do not own a company that's been trading in Iraqi oil. And you have no business to carry a quotation, utterly unsubstantiated and false, implying otherwise.

Now you have nothing on me, Senator, except my name on lists of names from Iraq, many of which have been drawn up after the installation of your puppet government in Baghdad. If you had any of the letters against me that you had against Zhirinovsky, and even Pasqua, they would have been up there in your slideshow for the members of your committee today.

You have my name on lists provided to you by the Duelfer inquiry, provided to him by the convicted bank robber, and fraudster and conman Ahmed Chalabi who many people to their credit in your country now realise played a decisive role in leading your country into the disaster in Iraq.

There were 270 names on that list originally. That's somehow been filleted down to the names you chose to deal with in this committee. Some of the names on that committee included the former secretary to his Holiness Pope John Paul II, the former head of the African National Congress Presidential office and many others who had one defining characteristic in common: they all stood against the policy of sanctions and war which you vociferously prosecuted and which has led us to this disaster.

You quote Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Well, you have something on me, I've never met Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Your sub-committee apparently has. But I do know that he's your prisoner, I believe he's in Abu Ghraib prison. I believe he is facing war crimes charges, punishable by death. In these circumstances, knowing what the world knows about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, in Bagram Airbase, in Guantanamo Bay, including I may say, British citizens being held in those places.

I'm not sure how much credibility anyone would put on anything you manage to get from a prisoner in those circumstances. But you quote 13 words from Dahar Yassein Ramadan whom I have never met. If he said what he said, then he is wrong.

And if you had any evidence that I had ever engaged in any actual oil transaction, if you had any evidence that anybody ever gave me any money, it would be before the public and before this committee today because I agreed with your Mr Greenblatt [Mark Greenblatt, legal counsel on the committee].

Your Mr Greenblatt was absolutely correct. What counts is not the names on the paper, what counts is where's the money. Senator? Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars of money? The answer to that is nobody. And if you had anybody who ever paid me a penny, you would have produced them today.

Now you refer at length to a company names in these documents as Aredio Petroleum. I say to you under oath here today: I have never heard of this company, I have never met anyone from this company. This company has never paid a penny to me and I'll tell you something else: I can assure you that Aredio Petroleum has never paid a single penny to the Mariam Appeal Campaign. Not a thin dime. I don't know who Aredio Petroleum are, but I daresay if you were to ask them they would confirm that they have never met me or ever paid me a penny.

Whilst I'm on that subject, who is this senior former regime official that you spoke to yesterday? Don't you think I have a right to know? Don't you think the Committee and the public have a right to know who this senior former regime official you were quoting against me interviewed yesterday actually is?

Now, one of the most serious of the mistakes you have made in this set of documents is, to be frank, such a schoolboy howler as to make a fool of the efforts that you have made. You assert on page 19, not once but twice, that the documents that you are referring to cover a different period in time from the documents covered by The Daily Telegraph which were a subject of a libel action won by me in the High Court in England late last year.

You state that The Daily Telegraph article cited documents from 1992 and 1993 whilst you are dealing with documents dating from 2001. Senator, The Daily Telegraph's documents date identically to the documents that you were dealing with in your report here. None of The Daily Telegraph's documents dealt with a period of 1992, 1993. I had never set foot in Iraq until late in 1993 - never in my life. There could possibly be no documents relating to Oil-for-Food matters in 1992, 1993, for the Oil-for-Food scheme did not exist at that time.

And yet you've allocated a full section of this document to claiming that your documents are from a different era to the Daily Telegraph documents when the opposite is true. Your documents and the Daily Telegraph documents deal with exactly the same period.

But perhaps you were confusing the Daily Telegraph action with the Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor did indeed publish on its front pages a set of allegations against me very similar to the ones that your committee have made. They did indeed rely on documents which started in 1992, 1993. These documents were unmasked by the Christian Science Monitor themselves as forgeries.

Now, the neo-con websites and newspapers in which you're such a hero, senator, were all absolutely cock-a-hoop at the publication of the Christian Science Monitor documents, they were all absolutely convinced of their authenticity. They were all absolutely convinced that these documents showed me receiving $10 million from the Saddam regime. And they were all lies.

In the same week as the Daily Telegraph published their documents against me, the Christian Science Monitor published theirs which turned out to be forgeries and the British newspaper, Mail on Sunday, purchased a third set of documents which also upon forensic examination turned out to be forgeries. So there's nothing fanciful about this. Nothing at all fanciful about it.

The existence of forged documents implicating me in commercial activities with the Iraqi regime is a proven fact. It's a proven fact that these forged documents existed and were being circulated amongst right-wing newspapers in Baghdad and around the world in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Iraqi regime.

Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.

I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.

If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.

Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Haliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.

Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it.

Have a look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own Government."

Read more at:
http://www.georgegalloway.com

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