Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report


APPENDIX 4

Letter to Mr George Galloway MP from the Chairman of the previous Committee
on Standards and Privileges

  The Committee on Standards and Privileges have made a preliminary examination of the report they have received from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards in respect of the complaint made by Mr Charles Hendry. The Committee have asked me to write to you to ask for further information to assist them in reaching a conclusion.

  The questions arise from the material submitted by Mr Hendry to the Commissioner supporting his complaint.

1.  The Committee are not clear about the exact services which you provided to the Committee for Defence of Legitimate Rights (CDLR), or to its Director Dr Saad Al-Fagih or to Mr Al Mass'ari. Did any of these services relate in any way to your position as a Member of Parliament? When did the services you provided begin and when did they end? Did the issue of the payment of remuneration to you or fees to Hawk Communications for those services ever arise?

2.  What has been the total amount of expenses both taxable and non-taxable paid to you or to any company with which you are associated by the CDLR, Dr Al-Fagih, Mr Al Mass'ari or by any person associated with them: when was the first payment of expenses made and when was the last? Did you (or did Hawk) keep any record of expenses and of payments received?

3.  On what date did you last act or correspond in the name of, or on behalf of, any organisation by the name of Hawk Communications or Hawk Communications International either incorporated or otherwise?

4.  What was your relationship with Hawk Communications International? What was the role of the other directors? How much of the share capital did you own? Did the company ever transact business? Did you at any time receive payments from the Company? What payments were made into the company?

    Was there in practice a difference between your interests and those of the company?

5.  In the interview Mr Al Mass'ari is reported as saying (at line 187):

    "He was sending out the reports with a cover letter from himself in the House of Commons envelopes ... there were hundreds maybe thousands, definitely thousands UK addresses were considerable. The international ones were not free.

    So he would give us the envelopes and we just put them in and sent them out".

    Did you use the free postal facilities provided to Members in connection with any of the services provided to the CDLR, Dr Al-Fagih, or Mr Al Mass'ari or to circulate material which they originated?

6.  What services have you provided in the Palace of Westminster to the CDLR, Dr Al Fagih and Mr Al Mass'ari? Were any payments made to you or to Hawk in connection with those services either by way of reimbursement of expenses or in any other way?

  It will be very helpful to us if your able to let us have your responses by the end of September, so that we have them for when we meet again after the Recess.

7 August 1996

Reply from Mr George Galloway MP

  I was disappointed to receive your letter dated 7 August 1996 but received only today, on the subject of my relations with the Saudi opposition. I had thought that I had cleared all these matters up with Sir Gordon Downey and indeed he told me that having looked at these matters he would be recommending that this issue be closed.

  The complaint against me by Mr Charles Hendry MP, the Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party is unfounded.

  You ask about "services" "provided to" the Saudi opposition. This formulation is wrong. I am a political activist and I have been wholeheartedly involved in their activities, and I continue to be until now. I was active in their campaign before I ever met the two gentlemen referred to and I will remain active whatever happens to them.

  I never received any remuneration or any expenses within the meaning of the term as understood by either the Inland Revenue or the Standards and Privileges Committee. Because of this I declared no interest in the House and neither did I keep a record of my activities with them.

  Hawk Communications was set to provide professional campaigning services for those causes in which its founders believed. There were five people involved in the company each investing £1,000 each. Almost all of this was spent on a visit to Palestine and on a large stock of headed note paper, compliment slips and envelopes which remains in my office until today. The company had no staff and no address other than a post box at an address in Glasgow and at a similar address in Jerusalem.

  In the end it never traded and no payments were ever made into the company from anyone or anywhere.

  No taxable expenses were ever received by me or any company with which I am associated from either CDLR or any person associated with them. As I have repeated Ad Nauseum in the papers already before you the only monies which passed from their hands to mine were those required to pay bills incurred by them through me.

  A good example is the conference held in April 1995 in the House of Commons which I paid on my credit card to the banqueting office and they reimbursed.

  I used House of Commons note paper and envelopes to correspond with British companies, the British media, and British politicians in order to circulate my views about the correct public policy for Britain towards Saudi Arabia. I was in control of that circulation.

  On your last point, I am not sure what you mean by "services in the Palace of Westminster". I have made use of my Parliamentary position to denounce the absolutist directorship in Saudi Arabia and advance the cause of democratic reform there. I do not regard these as "services" to anyone within the meaning I imagine your committee envisages. I reiterate that I did so out of my strongly held beliefs and received no financial rewards. If I had I would have declared them.

  In conclusion I have to say, as I said to Sir Gordon Downey, I think it is more than a little ironic that the Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, whose ranks include members who have grown exceedingly rich as a result of their close relationship with the blood-stained tyrants in Riyadh, should be pursuing me as a result of my unpaid support for those fighting for elected accountable government in Arabia.

  I do hope that this concludes this matter, but should you wish to see me to discuss these matters further I will be happy to meet with you.

  With best wishes.

14 August 1996


 
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