George Galloway

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Jump to: navigation, search
George Galloway
George Galloway

George Galloway (born on August 16, 1954) is a British politician noted for his left-wing views, confrontational style, and rhetorical skill. He is currently the Respect Member of Parliament (MP) for Bethnal Green and Bow, and was previously elected as a Labour Party MP for Glasgow Hillhead and Glasgow Kelvin. Campaigning against sanctions on Iraq, he made several visits to that country and met Saddam Hussein in 1994 and 2002; he was expelled from the Labour Party in October 2003 after controversial statements against the 2003 invasion of Iraq including "Iraq is fighting for all the Arabs... Where are the Arab armies?" [1]

In January 2004 he formed RESPECT The Unity Coalition (Respect) as a new socialist political party to the left of Labour, made up of opponents of UK participation in the Iraq war including the Socialist Workers Party and several leading members of the Muslim Association of Britain. He was returned to Parliament as its candidate in the 2005 general election.


Early and personal life

Galloway was born in Dundee, Scotland, of partial Irish Catholic extraction, and attended the Harris Academy. He was married from 1979 to 1999 to Elaine Fyffe, with whom he has a daughter. In March 2000 he married Dr. Amineh Abu-Zayyad, a Muslim Palestinian biologist. Five years later she announced to The Sunday Times that she would be filing for divorce, alleging that Galloway had been unfaithful throughout their marriage. She said she had "received a number of phone calls from women who claim to have had romantic links with him", and that Galloway had told her it was "a plot by an unnamed intelligence service to discredit him". [2] Galloway said "I didn’t show my wife the respect she deserves", but said he was genuinely astonished to learn that she was filing for divorce. [3] He insisted that the allegations should not be taken at face value and that the divorce had "clearly been raised by The Sunday Times to damage me in the election" (the story was on the front page four days before polling day).

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." [4]

War on Want

From 1983 to 1987 Galloway was, until he bacame an MP, General Secretary of the charity War On Want — founded by the Labour Party future Prime Minister Harold Wilson. Galloway increased its income sevenfold, but later faced accusations of misuse of his expenses account, which was £21,000 in 1985-86, to stay in luxury hotels when on foreign trips. He paid back £1,720 after an audit identified a lack of controls, but was cleared of any dishonesty.

War On Want was later found to have been insolvent, and subsequently dismissed all its staff and went into administration. It was rescued and relaunched in 1991. The Charity Commission said the accounts for 1985 to 1989 were mis-stated, and found responsibility lay "to a large extent" with auditors and not any individual. However Galloway, who had been General Secretary for the first three of those years, was found to be "lacking expertise in crucial areas". [5] [6]

Parliamentary career

Member of Parliament, Glasgow

Galloway was selected as Labour candidate for the Glasgow Hillhead seat formerly held by Roy Jenkins of the SDP. He ran for the Labour Party National Executive Committee in 1986 but came in next to last; at the 1986 Labour Party Conference he made a strong attack on Shadow Chancellor Roy Hattersley for not favouring exchange controls.

In the 1987 election, Galloway won Glasgow Hillhead with a majority of 3,251. He faced an almost immediate scandal when, as part of the War on Want expenses probe, he was asked about a conference on Mykonos, Greece and 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, eclipsing questions about War on Want's finances, and the executive committee of Galloway's Constituency Labour Party passed a vote of no confidence in him in February 1988. He only narrowly survived to win reselection over Trish Godman (wife of fellow MP Norman Godman) in June 1989 when he did not win a majority of the electoral college; indicating discontent with the result, 13 out of the 26 members of the Constituency Party's Executive Committee resigned that August.[1]

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 been blackballed. 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."[1]

In 1997, Galloway launched a newspaper, East, largely bankrolled by the Government of Pakistan, focusing on Pakistan and promoting a pro-Bhutto position. He also worked with the National Lobby on Kashmir, promoting Pakistan's claims to the territory. When Bhutto's government fell, Galloway met with the new Government and wrote a series of letters asking them for funding, which he ultimately obtained.[7] While there was no suggestion that any of his actions in the case were illegal, the way in which he apparently put himself under an obligation to the Government of Pakistan damaged his reputation in some eyes.

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. In boundary changes taking effect at the 2005 election, the seat was divided. Galloway chose to stand in Bethnal Green and Bow, in the east end of London (see below).

Expulsion from the Labour Party

In a 28 March 2003 interview with Abu Dhabi TV, Galloway said 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." The latter remark briefly led to suggestions that he might be prosecuted for treason under the Incitement to Disaffection Act, 1934. [8] His most controversial statement, which led to a Sun headline, "MP blasted over 'kill Brits' call", could be read as inciting attacks on British forces in Iraq: "Iraq is fighting for all the Arabs. Where are the Arab armies?". His additional comment that "... even if it is not realistic to ask a non-Iraqi army to come to defend Iraq, we see Arab regimes pumping oil for the countries who are attacking it," implied that he would have at least liked to have seen a fuel embargo. [2]

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 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". [3]

2005 election

In January 2004 Galloway announced he would be working with members of the Socialist Alliance and others under the name RESPECT The Unity Coalition, generally referred to simply as Respect. Many commentators were surprised by this development since Galloway had a track record of antipathy toward Trotskyists, and the largest component of Respect is the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party. 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".[9]

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.

Galloway's Glasgow Kelvin constituency was split between three different constituencies at the May 2005 general election. 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. Owing to the boundary changes, the Labour candidate in the new Glasgow Central constituency, which could have been his most likely chance, was his long-time friend Mohammad Sarwar, the first Muslim Labour MP and a strong opponent of the Iraq War; 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 an extremely disreputable one. The tyres of Oona King's car were slashed and Les Dobrovolski, an elderly Labour Party member, was assaulted by people whom he and Oona King later claimed were supporting 'Respect' and had left a Respect leaflet by his side. Respect disputed this claim and pointed out that the leaflet had not be issued until a day later[10]. On 21 April 2005, it was reported by the BBC that Galloway had himself been threatened with death by extreme Islamists and threatened with a fatwa. All the major candidates united in condemning the threats and violence. Oona King added that "it has not been helped by some of the language used by Respect. Extremism breeds extremism." [11]

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 by asking if it would not be better to congratulate him for "one of the most sensational election results in modern history?". Pressed further, he refused to say any more than "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." [4]. 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 wish to be defined, by my ethnicity". [5]

Galloway had remarked during the course of the election that King was responsible for "the deaths of many people in Iraq with blacker faces than hers," in response to questions over whether he should stand against one of Britain's few black female MPs. Immediately following this interview, it was also suggested that by running in this constituency Galloway was carpetbagging.

Galloway's accusations against the returning officer, Christine Gilbert, were that she had presided over a shambles "which would disgrace a banana republic", referring to various difficulties, such as a block of flats being left off the electoral register and implying possible fraud aimed at preventing him from winning. He later gave evidence to a committee of the Greater London Assembly on this issue [12]. Among the allegations made were that postal votes were deliberately mixed up with other votes before being counted; it later emerged that election law required that this be done.

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 March 25, 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" has more details). However since being elected in 2005, he has become more active. 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. [6]

In November 2005 Galloway's commitment to Parliamentary activity was again called into question when he failed to attend the House of Commons to debate the Terrorism Bill, despite Respect having urged its members to put pressure on MPs to attend. It was subsequently confirmed that Galloway had been giving his one-man show in Cork, Ireland on the night and Galloway's spokesman asserted that it was "uncancellable" [13].

Political views and characteristics

Galloway at CND demonstration in Edinburgh.
Galloway at CND demonstration in Edinburgh.

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 some time but returned to Christian belief in his mid-20s, and he is opposed to abortion, although he supports Respect's pro-choice stance. He also supported the equalisation of the age of consent for homosexuality. During his time as a Labour MP he was never a member of the Socialist Campaign Group of left-wing MP's. In the 2001 Parliament, he voted against the whip 27 times. During the 2001-02 session he was the 9th most rebellious Labour MP.

Galloway has attracted most attention for his comments on foreign policy, taking a special interest in Libya, Pakistan, Iraq, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. His support for the Palestinian cause began in 1974 when he met a Palestinian activist in Dundee; he converted the rest of the Dundee Labour Party which flew the Palestinian flag over the Town Hall and twinned the city with Nablus in 1980. [14]

In an interview with the Guardian [15], Galloway outlined his political views in relation to the Soviet Union:

"I am on the anti-imperialist left." The Stalinist left? "I wouldn't define it that way because of the pejoratives loaded around it; that would be making a rod for your own back. 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." [7]

Galloway regards Fidel Castro's Cuba as "a remarkable society" and "a model for the world." He has said Castro is "not a dictator, not at all", and described him as "the greatest man I have met." When there was a 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".


Galloway meeting with Saddam Hussein.
Galloway meeting with Saddam Hussein.
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:

In the late 1970s, Galloway was a founding member of the Campaign Against Repression and for Democratic Rights in Iraq (CARDRI), which campaigned against Saddam Hussein's regime in response to its suppression of the Iraqi Communist Party. He was critical of America and Britain's later role in supporting Saddam during the Iran-Iraq War and was involved in protests at Iraq's cultural centre in London in the 1980s.

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 earned him the nickname the "member for Baghdad Central". In 1994, Galloway faced some of his strongest criticism on his return from a Middle-Eastern visit during which he had met Saddam Hussein ostensibly "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 infamously ended his speech with the phrase "Sir: I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability." [16]

In the speech, Galloway clearly is addressing Saddam in support of his fight against U.N. sanctions, the policies of the U.S. and U.K. governments, and Israel ("hatta al-nasr, hatta al-nasr, hatta al-Quds" [preceding words in Arabic which mean, "until victory, until victory, until Jerusalem"]). When later pressed to explain why he would make such a speech, he said that it was for the benefit of the Iraqi people, collectively.

In 1999, Galloway was criticised for spending Christmas in Iraq with Tariq Aziz, the then Deputy Prime Minister. In the May 17, 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 Tariq Aziz, "more than ten", and characterized their relationship as "friendly". [17]

In a House of Commons debate on 6 March 2002, Foreign Office Minister Ben Bradshaw said of Galloway that he "had ... made a career of being 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 Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country. After the meeting, Galloway gave a series of press interviews in which he commented that millions of Iraqis supported Saddam Hussein. [18]

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 has also claimed to have been a prominent campaigner against Saddam Hussein's regime in the 1980s, and to have criticized 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." [19].

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." [20] However, just a few months later, Galloway called for the release of Tariq Aziz, Saddam's foreign minister, without charge, describing him as "an eminent diplomatic and intellectual person." During Saddam's government, Galloway holidayed and even disco-danced with Saddam's foreign minister.

Galloway signing an asylum seekers petition, sitting on the edge of the StWC stage at the 2005 Make Poverty History rally.
Galloway signing an asylum seekers petition, sitting on the edge of the StWC stage at the 2005 Make Poverty History rally.

Galloway is Vice-President of the Stop the War Coalition(StWC). He is actively involved, often speaking on StWC platforms at anti war demonstrations.

Views on Blair and Bush

At the national conference of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, on June 30, 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 November 20, 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. [21]

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

Bush, and Blair, and the prime minister of Japan, and 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. [22]

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

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 argued that the attacks were a predictable consequence of the government's foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan:

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 ... and, I predict, it will not be the last. [23]

Winding up the debate for the government in the last few seconds of time allocated for the debate, Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram described Galloway's remarks as "disgraceful" and accused Galloway of "dipping his poisonous tongue in a pool of blood" [24]. There was no time for Galloway to intervene and he fell foul of the Deputy Speaker when making a point of order about this personal attack, in which Galloway responded by describing Ingram as a "thug" who had committed a "foul-mouthed, deliberately timed, last-10-second smear" [25]. The men have previously clashed; see "Autobiography" below.

Rhetorical skill

Galloway is seen as an adept wordsmith and debater. For example, according to the Boston Globe [26] he is "known, even in the highly articulate world of British politics, for his memorable turns of phrase," whereas the Times [27] finds that he has "the gift of the Glasgow gab, a love of the stage and an inexhaustible fund of self-belief." The Guardian [28] finds him "renowned for his colourful rhetoric and combative debating style" and the Spectator once awarded him Debater of the Year. Sometimes this general acknowledgement of Galloway's rhetorical capacity is accompanied by criticism that he is evasive (Scotsman [29], "ducked the question") and he has also been repeatedly jeered for remarks seen as fawning over Arab dictators. His remarks are sampled at Wikiquotes [30].

John Malkovich incident

In May 2002, at the Cambridge Union, American actor John Malkovich stated that he would like to shoot both George Galloway and the journalist Robert Fisk. On being told of this, Galloway responded "if it was a joke it is not very funny and if it wasn't a joke, he will be hearing from my lawyers".

Muslim/Progressive Alliance

During a March 9 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. [31]

Corruption allegations

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 tens of thousands of other Iraqi children due to lack of suitable medicines and facilities, and to campaign for the lifting of the western sanctions that Galloway maintained were responsible for that situation. The campaign won Galloway press coverage, first positive then increasingly negative, as allegations arose that funds were misappropriated and used to pay his wife and driver.

The fund was at the centre of a further scrutiny during the 2003 Gulf war, with allegations of lavish spending on Galloway's regular trips to the Middle East, including first class travel, luxury hotel accommodation, and consumption of expensive champagne and caviar. Galloway, however, denied that he had misused any funds raised for the Mariam Appeal and pointed out that it was not unreasonable for money from a campaign fund to be used to pay for the travel expenses of campaigners. 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[32], found that the Mariam Appeal was doing charitable work (and so should properly have been registered with them), but did not substantiate allegations that any funds had been misused:

The commission's thorough inquiry found no evidence to suggest that the large amounts of money given to the Mariam Appeal were not properly used. [33]

At the same time the original Charity Commission report noted:

12. The Commission has been unable to obtain all the books and records of the Appeal. Mr Galloway, the first Chairman of the Appeal, has stated that this documentation was sent to Amman and Baghdad in 2001 when Fawaz Zuriekat became Chairman of the Appeal. Mr Galloway has informed the Commission that this documentation is no longer under the control of the original trustees of the Appeal and cannot be located by them. Mr Galloway confirmed that the Appeal did not produce annual profit and loss accounts or balance sheets.

During Galloway's testimony before a United States Senate committee on May 17, 2005 regarding allegations of illegally allocated oil vouchers, Galloway relied upon the Charity Commission's findings as going "one better" than an investigation into specific improprieties. Soon after the hearing the Charity Commission released a statement (also here):

While we were able to review income and expenditure from the bank statements of the Appeal, which we had to obtain using our legal powers direct from banks, we were not able to verify all aspects of expenditure because of the lack of proper documentation. However, we found no evidence that the funds of the Appeal were misapplied (other than the payment of some unauthorised benefits to trustees which were made in good faith).

It also rebuts Galloway's assertion that the report necessarily precludes any possibility of illicit oil dealings:

Our inquiry did not find evidence of donations direct from oil companies but noted that one of the major funders of the Appeal was Fawaz Zureikat, an individual named on 12 May 2005 by the US Senate Sub-Committee as allegedly connected with payments in relation to allocations of oil under the Iraq Oil for Food Programme. We have no evidence to show that the income received by the Fund from Mr Zureikat came from an improper source. But had the recent allegations been known to us at the time of our inquiry, we would have made the information available to the appropriate UK authorities for them to decide whether the Mariam Appeal had received funds from an illegal source.

Oil for Food

Daily Telegraph

On April 22, 2003, the Daily Telegraph published an article describing documents which the paper claimed had been 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 [34]. Galloway completely denied the story, insisted that the documents were forgeries, 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 November 14, 2004 (HQ03X0206, George Galloway MP vs. Telegraph Group Ltd.) On December 2, 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. In UK libel cases, the winning party is also normally awarded costs, with the loser paying the bill. 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 [35]. 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". [36] 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, although each side had tried and failed to get some independent confirmation that they were genuine (the Telegraph) or were not (Galloway).


The Christian Science Monitor also published a story on April 25, 2003 stating that they had documentary evidence that he had received "more than ten million dollars" from the Iraqi regime. However, on June 20, 2003, the Monitor (article link) reported 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 March 19, 2004. [37] [38] 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.

Christopher Hitchens has also accused Galloway of profiting from the Oil For Food Program. Hitchens has invited Galloway to sue him for libel in the British courts.[39]

US Senate

Evidence presented to the Committee (contract M/9/23); George Galloway's name appears next to Fawaz Zurayqat in a different font and at an angle to the rest of the text on that line.
Evidence presented to the Committee (contract M/9/23); George Galloway's name appears next to Fawaz Zurayqat in a different font and at an angle to the rest of the text on that line.

In May 2005 a US Senate committee report [40] 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. No comment was made on whether the documents have been investigated for evidence of forgery.

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 interviews with former high-ranking officials now 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 in an interview that Galloway was allocated oil "because of his opinions about Iraq."

Detail of contract M/12/14 (high-resolution version)
Detail of contract M/12/14 (high-resolution version)

Socialist Worker Online [41] (also reproduced in the weekly printed publication) 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 [42], M/10/38, M/11/04 [43], M/12/14, M/13/48 [44]) 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 Zuraykat is the only one whose nationality is identified in one instance but not in others. [8]

Galloway response

On May 17, 2005, the committee held a hearing concerning specific allegations (of which Galloway was one part) relating to improprieties surrounding the Oil-for-Food programme. 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). [9]. 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.

In his testimony, Galloway made the following statements in response to the allegations against him [45]:

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.

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 calls 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 Daily Telegraph, though Galloway pointed out that the presumed forgeries pertaining to the Christian Science Monitor report did refer to an earlier period.

The American Spectator called into question assertions of Galloway relating to his associate, the Jordanian businessman Fawaz Zureikat, who was also implicated in the report. [46] In response to a question from Coleman regarding his knowledge of Zureikat's dealings in Iraq, Galloway stated that, "Not only did I know that, but I told everyone about it. I emblazoned it in our literature, on our website, precisely so that people like you could not later credibly question my bona fides in that regard. So I did better than that. I never asked him if he was trading in oil. I knew he was a big trader with Iraq, and I told everybody about it." The Spectator claims that in fact a look into archived versions of the website (which is no longer available) reveals that no such mention exists.

Gooding's report says of the July 2001 snapshot " this point in time, there is absolutely no mention of Mr. Zureikat or any other donors to the organization at all." Zureikat does make an appearance on the Mariam Appeal site, however. He was named as a contact within the National Mobilization Committee on Defense of Iraq (NMCDI) for the "Rebuilding Baghdad Library" book drive. There is no mention made of his business relationship with Iraq. (This page was not there on April 1, 2001, but was there on a subsequent snapshot taken the next day. So we know when Zureikat's name was added to Mariam Appeal's site.)

The article suggests that this] implies Zureikat to be a benificiary of funds from the Mariam Appeal rather than a donor and claims that at no time does the list of "Founder members and supporters" include Zureikat, whom Galloway stated in his testimony was made chairman of the foundation sometime in late 2000 or early 2001. There appears to be no mention of whether funds donated to Mariam Appeal were used on behalf of NMDCI or if it simply "works with the Mariam Appeal," as the website stated.[47] [48]

Galloway also took the occasion of his Senate testimony to denounce the invasion of Iraq as having been based on "a pack of lies". The U.S. media, in reporting his appearance, emphasized his blunt remarks on the war. The British media, however, 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. [49] [50]

Alleged Perjury

A report by the majority staff of the Senate committee on investigations published in October 2005 asserted that Galloway had perjured himself when appearing before them. The report exhibits bank statements seeming to 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 accused Senator Norm Coleman of lying, and claimed Coleman's motive was revenge over the embarrassment of his appearance before the committee in May. [51] [52] [53]. Later he said that his "...wife has denied ever having received any money from Dr al-Chelabi." [54]. Former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, according to his lawyer, denied claiming that Galloway had received illicit funds, as has been reported by some newspapers [55].

Publishing activities

Asian Voice

Galloway has been involved in several publishing companies. He owned Asian Voice, which published a newspaper called East from 1996. An investigation by BBC Newsnight found that Galloway had secured payments of £60,000 and £135,000 from the Pakistani governments of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. Galloway insisted this was for advertising space and bulk copies, but Newsnight alleged that it was for favourable coverage of Pakistan. He is currently one of two Directors of Finjan Ltd.; the other Director is his former wife.


His autobiography, I'm Not The Only One, was published on April 29, 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 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 Mr. Ingram should pay the full court costs of the hearing. The interim edict was denied, however Mr. Ingram is still entitled to pursue a damages-seeking defamation action. [56]


In May 2005 he launched a new publishing house, Friction, an imprint that will publish "books that burn, books that cause controversy and get people talking". The first book published, An Easy Thing by Mexican author Paco Ignacio Taibo, displayed a semi-naked woman on its cover, offending some of Galloway's supporters. [57] The publishing house's second book is to be The Battle for Bethnal Green, by Galloway and his friend Ron McKay, which will include a chapter on his trip to Washington. [10]


External links


Articles and news reports

US Congressional testimony & related

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Personal tools