Defend Galloway

The Christian Science Monitor has withdrawn its allegation against the rebel Labour MP, writes Kit Robinson

George Galloway, the leftwing anti-war Labour MP, has now served a writ for libel against the Daily Telegraph over allegations, published in April, that he was in the pay of Iraqi intelligence.

This legal move, which formalises his counter-attack against the Tory paper, comes in the aftermath of an important, though partial, victory in his campaign against this kind of witch-hunting allegations made by enemies of the anti-war movement in the imperialist media, probably originating in the intelligence services. With regard to their publication of documents purporting to show that Galloway had been in the pay of Iraqi intelligence for a decade, the US-based Christian Science Monitor published a statement that included the following passage:

“On April 25 2003, this newspaper ran a story about documents obtained in Iraq that alleged Saddam Hussein’s regime had paid a British member of parliament, George Galloway, $10 million over 11 years to promote its interests in the west. An extensive Monitor investigation has subsequently determined that the six papers detailed in the April 25 piece are, in fact, almost certainly forgeries.

“The Arabic text of the papers is inconsistent with known examples of Baghdad bureaucratic writing, and is replete with problematic language, says a leading US-based expert on Iraqi government documents. Signature lines and other format elements differ from genuine procedure. The two ‘oldest’ documents - dated 1992 and 1993 - were actually written within the past few months, according to a chemical analysis of their ink. The newest document - dated 2003 - appears to have been written at approximately the same time.

“… It is important to set the record straight: We are convinced the documents are bogus. We apologise to Mr Galloway and to our readers” (June 20).

Galloway responded to this by refusing to accept the CSM’s apology, and vowing to continue his projected legal action against the newspaper; this statement deprives them of any credible defence (is gullibility a defence?). He stated: “A newspaper of their international standing should have conducted these basic checks on the authenticity of these documents before they published them and not more than two months afterwards.” He also demanded that Tony Blair conduct an official enquiry into the scandal: “I want to know who forged these documents … I am calling on the prime minister, as head of the co-occupying power in Iraq, to investigate how this conspiracy came about.”

The CSM cave-in is an ominous development for the Telegraph. Its management, headed by the Canadian Tory press tycoon, Conrad Black, has been understandably quick to try to distance itself from the CSM statement, claiming that its own purported ‘evidence’ comes from a different, more reliable source, was more credible, etc. Nevertheless the fact that it has now been proved that some person (or more likely organisation or organisations) has been forging documents attempting to frame Galloway hardly bolsters the Telegraph’s chances of winning out in court - where it would have to prove its allegations are true. The idea that journalists were able to simply waltz into a ruined ministry building of a conquered government under the noses of US troops and just gather up useful stuff for a witch-hunting ‘scoop’ back home is pretty far-fetched.

Given the longstanding connections of the Telegraph with British intelligence in any case, its forgeries may well (though even this may be hype) be more carefully crafted and perhaps harder to call, but the allegations contained in the Telegraph’s story make no more sense in terms of political logic than do those of the CSM. George Galloway’s political activities flow from conviction, not from any quest for personal gain.

Galloway became well known as a campaigner opposing imperialist aggression against Iraq over two major wars, numerous smaller raids and skirmishes and a decade of murderous sanctions. At the same time his particular strategy of campaigning for these generally laudable goals led him to bloc politically with the Saddam regime, as well as other Arab governments, in a manner that left him open to criticism for allowing what are in fact reactionary and repressive regimes to contribute financially to and be seen to endorse his initiatives, and thereby gain themselves undeserved political kudos for being associated with such a progressive cause. These unwise activities, deriving from a programme of leftwing third worldism, appear to have given sinister elements in the imperialist ‘security’ services their opportunity to make this attempt to victimise Galloway with forgeries and fraudulent allegations.

Such political criticisms of some of Galloway’s activities in this respect are quite justified, from the standpoint of a determined defence against the witch-hunters who are trying to crucify him for what in the end, errors notwithstanding, remain courageous anti-war statements and actions. Galloway’s campaign to defeat the spooks, hacks, political whores and vultures who have smeared him deserves the support of all socialists, as indeed does his campaign to overturn the witch-hunting suspension of his Labour Party membership by the war-criminal Blair and his gang.

We urge all our readers to support his appeal (below) for labour movement support and financial backing for his libel actions, to raise support for it in their trade unions, and indeed any other appropriate body, and to contribute to the appeal themselves.

Galloway appeal

Dear friend

In view of your kind support for my work in the past I am writing to ask for your help.

I have launched the George Galloway Legal Fund which will be handled by my lawyers, Davenport Lyons, 1 Old Burlington Street, London W1X 2NL. This is to help finance my legal costs in the libel actions I will fight against The Daily Telegraph and the Christian Science Monitor after their vicious attacks upon me in April of this year.

Their utterly false claims are, as I’m sure you will have concluded, entirely politically motivated. They are intended to punish me for my role on the Palestinian and Iraq issues, to intimidate me and others from continuing to make a stand and if possible to drive me out of British politics altogether. With the support of my friends I intend to fight this. I hope I can count you as one of those friends.

The Telegraph group is controlled by Lord and Lady Black (Barbara Amiel), two of Sharon’s Israel’s most vociferous supporters. On Black’s board of directors sit Richard Perle and Henry Kissinger, as did once Margaret Thatcher. I mention this so you’ll know what we’re up against and the bitter and expensive fight on which I have embarked.

I can’t do it without your help and I hope you will donate what you can. All contributions will be carefully recorded and will be returned on the successful awarding of costs in the case, or a proportion will be returned if costs are only partly awarded.

Cheques, etc should be made payable to the George Galloway Legal Fund and sent to Davenport Lyons solicitors, 1 Old Burlington Street, London W1X 2NL. Confidentiality will be respected. I sincerely hope I can count on your support in what will be an important political as well as legal struggle.

In any case with all good wishes,

Yours fraternally
George Galloway MP
June 17 2003