April 24, 2003

GEORGE GALLOWAY says others may

GEORGE GALLOWAY says others may have profited from Iraq, but never he:

George Galloway conceded last night that intermediaries in his fund-raising activities could have siphoned off money from Saddam Hussein - but insisted he had never done so.

In The Independent, defiant George offers this spirited defence:

The Telegraph says I traded in oil and food under the oil-for-food programme. To whom did I sell this oil (which, incidentally, is done through the United Nations Sanctions Committee and subject to the most forensic scrutiny)? And what happened to the proceeds? In other words, where is the money? From whom did I buy the food that I allegedly sold to Iraq? Which food? When? Where?

I am genuinely surprised that lawyers on a major national newspaper appear not to have asked these basic questions. Does anyone seriously believe that I, one of the most observed and scrutinised political figures in Britain, could have been in receipt of such sums of money without attracting the attention of the security services?

The Telegraph has yet more George-Iraq news:

Saddam Hussein sought to protect George Galloway by severing the Iraqi intelligence service's contacts with the Labour backbencher, according to an official document found by The Daily Telegraph in Baghdad.

This letter, found in the files of the Iraqi foreign ministry, explained that any disclosure of Mr Galloway's "relationship" with the Mukhabarat, which operated as both secret police and intelligence service, would do great harm to his political career.

And The Independent analyses George's earlier evasions:

He claims he has "never seen a barrel of oil, let alone owned, bought or sold one". Anyone receiving commission would not necessarily have to have done so. He later tells the Telegraph: "I have never solicited nor received money from Iraq for our campaign against war and sanctions." That, in itself, does not address any personal benefit.

Posted by Tim Blair at April 24, 2003 12:10 PM