made on behalf of the previous Committee of the microcassette
Commissioner for Standards together with the complaint
BY MARK WATTS ("W"), A FREELANCE JOURNALIST, WITH PROFESSOR
AL MASS'ARI ("AM"), SECRETARY GENERAL AND SPOKESMAN,
The first two paragraphs of
the transcript supplied with the complaint are not on the tape.
W: So you were organising
a series of conferences up and down the country?
AM: We called it the talking
tour - or speaking tour.
W: Where you would talk in
AM: Yes. I spoke. Sometimes
spoke - was the main speaker: sometimes George spoke, not on
all occasions, giving the introduction or finding the local man
in the moslem community. The audience was mainly moslems but
on and off non-moslems were there.
W: Did George Galloway actually
AM: Yes, he organised this
for us. He organised hotels ..
W: Was that his job?
AM: Yes, he was the organiser.
He organised hotels obviously using Hawk or whatever for resources
as was needed. George also [inaudible] ... resources,
books etc [words inaudible] and he also dealt with the
tickets [inaudible sentence]. But he was not the money
side. Saad was managing the money side [several words inaudible].
So obviously we had the agency
plus Hawks [words inaudible] and bureau.
W: So what was the travel
agency bureau. Was this run by Amineh then?
AM: It was not his wife;
it was another woman. Her name is [four inaudible words].
W: Alright, alright.
AM: I could not ask George
about it: It is casual-
AM: ... I just do not know;
maybe it is just a bureau connected - connected in Hawks ...
W: Yes, so Hawks job was
to organise this series of meetings to book the rooms, book the
W: Deal with the tickets?
AM: Yes, someone - someone
AM: No, these were other
persons and I do not know the exact relations: usually we were
interacting with Imran; Imran was associate.
W: Yes, someone who - [an
exchange of several words obscured by pages turning close to microphone].
W: So you have Imran.
AM: Yes, Imran. And there
is David who is the bodyguard. He is a black belt at Karate.
W: Whose bodyguard?
W: Oh, I see.
AM. He is there for close
support and security. David is a very nice guy: he is English;
lives in Glasgow; Scottish [? wife]. Very nice.
W: Did you have to pay Hawk
to provide the bodyguard?
AM: No. That must be Saad
definitely. And for example those shirts that say Mass'ari must
stay which have been widely distributed and also used in the campaign
for the rector office in Glasgow where they were distributing
Mass'ari must stay shirts and stickers. All of that costs money
and Saad was paying that. And so, ... so all of that was done
through George Galloway. Now I do not know how it was done.
Precisely how, I do not know. But George did make formally an
offer for PR work [an inaudible aside] ... on Hawks papers
and that there could be PR and so on at very low costs, just costs;
covering costs including the workers wages; for translation and
so on, and also he discussed with me and Saad if there was sufficient
work - for, as PR, he would be hiring a lady to work at least
for the half time, based on the contract; if he had sufficient
work and because there would not be full time, nobody is full
time; only half time so then perhaps it warrants enough time for
a half time job. For secretarial and other support. That was
what he said.
W: I do not understand this.
Why was he putting in a contract, sorry a bid, for what he was
already doing - what was he doing if he was not doing PR work?
AM: No, no. That was when
he put it more formally later: now when was this [goes through
list of events] perhaps March? - and when he came more formal
later he put that offer in. I can tell you when that was roughly:
it was in March: and this was [words inaudible] ... association.
W: Yes, yes.
AM: Then after we started
on an experimental base, George came in and said he should be
doing that job because they are just professional, they do not
have their heart in the cause, he would do better service. And
then he made the suggestion. So it must be then essentially April
or March last year ...... but not much later.
Thank you very much.
AM: But I am not really sure.
The papers are upstairs. Looked after by my wife [?].
I do not know.
W: Can I just. I am not
quite clear about something. You have been meeting with George
Galloway first of all in October, November, 94?
AM: November, may be December,
W: You see Said Aburishe.
He says come and meet George Galloway. The meeting was December
94. And then in January 95 there is thing in the Jubilee Committee
when you meet him again?
AM: Yes, He organised all
that. Just to have that ... he suggested we have something there
[Al Mass'ari interrupted
by a question by a female voice; possibly Clare Henderson
a `Mail on Sunday'
And you talked about the Jordan [?] family?
AM: I don't know about that.
It was just a short evening [inaudible] introducing us.
The occasion was the outstanding deportation case for the Yemen.
So it was like "Al Mass'ari must stay" but not that
W: Right. And after that?
AM: I really don't know whether
at that level he asked for any money, expenses, for these presentations;
I really don't.
W: So all this is in the
very early stages really. So when was the very first time that
he actually does some work as distinct from supportive work.
Some paid work. The first occasion?
AM: It must be the organisation
of the conference, no later than the conference at the end of
April 95. This was a conference about the Gulf. So, yes, money
was needed. Money to provide for the participation of the people.
Some money was needed to cover our costs. Saad organised that.
W: I am sorry. What was
this meeting exactly. Whose was it?
AM: It was a conference for
the Gulf. And I gave a talk at the same time.
W: So this was for you to
give a talk.
AM: Oh ... yes. Also, me
and others from Yemen [lists them].
W: Different representatives?
AM: Yes, from [inaudible]
and from Bahrain giving the talk. It was morning and afternoon.
A full day conference.
W: In the House of Commons.
AM: In the House of Commons.
In another room. Not the Jubilee room. But inside the House.
W: So why did you have to
pay for that?
AM: The costs. The cost
of calling in the people. The cost of Halal food. There was
a lunch there, and a contribution would cover that. This cost
to be covered one hundred per cent - there was some sandwiches,
a meal. I think it was a minimal amount. A few hundreds.
W: This was all organised
AM: No. I do not say it
was Hawk. The name Hawk never - the name Hawk was seen by me
once - when he made the formal offer of PR actually. He suggested
that it would be based just on cost. Not making any money. Just
to keep Hawk running and employing maybe someone half time, or
who was half time - someone who was already half time turned into
full time. Someone who would obviously be doing other work as
W: Before we get to that
stage of him putting in the bid, he organises a series of meetings
up and down the country.
AM: No, no, no. This is
much later. Already formally, then
AM: And there was already
a problem. Because already we had an experiment ... or rather
conducted a test, that was with John and Pat.
They suggest to tour round the country. A speaking tour. They
were very upset that George took that.
W: So when was the speaking
AM: I will come to that later.
W: Oh, right.
AM: When I spoke to him he
suggested it was not very good to hire a professional PR and so
on because they are professional and they are good but they do
not have the cause at the heart. So we should abolish them and
have his organisation. I said to Saad that we should retain both
W: When did you say - when
did you say that?
AM: That was early summer
AM: So it was at the time
formally concluded, at that time not [words inaudible].
AM: So that was the time
of the Hawks contract. Around that time [another inaudible
question by and answer to a women questioner].
W: So in the summer of 95
you said you would think which one of them would do the speaking
AM: No, I suggested to Saad
... no, sorry, the suggestion came from John. George took up
the suggestion. They were very upset about it. So John and Pat
had suggested the speaking tour and Saad brought George in and
George just adopted the idea, [some words inaudible].
W: So, how much was he paid
to arrange the speaking tour?
AM: I do not know. You will
have to ask Saad. I don't know about the details. But he claimed
basic costs. The telephone. When he makes the costing, for himself,
nothing. Nothing as a person. The only thing was this repayment
- nothing paid except the monthly salary or half salary for this
person, this lady, and things like that.
W: So you think it was just
to cover basic costs?
AM: I think it was just,
to cover - I don't discuss this with Saad, then Saad was discussing
whether we should retain Pat and John -
AM: Someone comes in half
an hour. We must finish by then. So I was not following these
things. But then Saad said, may be we should terminate Pat and
John. Its an idea. But it is not a very good idea. Because
this way if any thing happens and George comes in then this way
- at the most - George will be able to establish good relations
with the moslem communities, with the Kashmiris, with [inaudible]
and so on. Be able to establish good relations with the Labour
party, but he only has in the Labour party only a small fraction,
and some politicians and MPs and things. But he does not have
involvement in the professional direction which we would get rather
from John and Pat. So we see that John and Pat get £2,000
per month, that is their contract. So Saad said, OK. I will
offer them £1,000; we cannot afford £2,000. Because
George was roughly around £1,000 a month; something like
that. I think so. Or £1,500. Then we have a total of £2,500.
And then we have the two PR groups doing two different sides.
W: So George Galloway was
putting in - he was actually costing £1,000 per month?
AM: £1,000 or £1,500.
It was variable. But it was the estimate.
W: He was costing or he would
AM: No, already costing it.
Previously. What he was doing for us already.
AM: No. The idea when he
discussed with us was that he would put someone on half time or
full time. He said a good secretary would cost about £1,500
per month. So half time, half of full time would be five, perhaps
£700 per month. So there will be a monthly cost at least
for this half time secretary.
W: This is not clear. Is
it in the bid. Or where?
AM: It is difficult to say.
He said "I will do PR but, for the CDLR", in order
to do a proper job, we will need a half time secretary at least.
W: But he was not actually
AM: Started doing it. Saad
approved doing it, - it did not seem to cost very much, then Saad's
suggestion that we should terminate John and Pat. This is not
a good idea to be at the mercy of George not because George was
bad [inaudible] but because if there are changes on the
political side [?] George must stop [inaudible].
W: You were using both of
them at this stage?
AM: Yes. And it was the
better idea because George was not costing very much. Perhaps
£1,000 a month, plus the expenditure of £700 or £600
- say £1,000, - £1,500 a month, something like that,
then we should retain John and Pat who go half time essentially.
This way we have two. And we can divide the work. John and
Pat would follow everything except Parliament, the moslem community
and so on. So the two sides.
W: I missed that. Can I
have it again?
AM: So John and Pat would
do the PR with the media, the television etc. etc., while George
would concentrate on the House of Commons, Kashmiris, possibly
communities in Glasgow, things outside London. The things he
does very well.
W: Especially well?
AM: Yes. And the situation
was stabilised at the time. Then later Saad originally sold John
and Pat the idea that the money is tight and he told John and
Pat that it would not be more than £1,000 for ever, or you
are free to go. He said "sorry there is not enough"
and for some reason John and Pat decided to stay.
[Inaudible question or
comment from female voice]
W: They loved the work so
[Conversation in arabic
with visitor, tape cut, when tape comes on again
AM is in mid sentence]
AM: -so he retained them
at one thousand. And later on in January he claimed that there
is no money: lets not retain them [interruption] so they
money was really tight at that time. So later on they stayed
on just on cost.
W: This is Pat and John?
AM: Yes. Just on cost.
They are paid the full costs, but not for their effort.
W: When did Hawk stop working?
AM: They have not stopped.
They are still working.
W: Are they still charged
the same sort of amount?
AM: I don't know. The last
time I talked to George was in February. He said that something
was due. Saad had not paid. I said I would see him because he
is a little bit clumsy with paying. I did not speak to him but
I understand that George went to him and he gave him something.
But maybe after that it stopped.
W: But right up until you
and Saad parted ways he was carrying on, paid the same sort of
sum. about £1,000 a month.
AM: Partly that. I think
it was partly the half time salary as well as the costs which
W: Which is quite a lot?
AM: Which may be considerable.
Because there is the speaking tour. We have [inaudible]
but this is not paid to him directly. There are researchers.
W: Who was the lady who was
half employed? You do not know?
W: I don't know what you
think, but all this business about we are just charging what is
AM: Well all the things are
clear. Because all these things are so much for this, so much
for that. So there were not very big charges we were not so much
W: But this salary. This
women working on your behalf. You have this half a women, half
a salary, paid half time.
AM: I never had the need
to find out if she exists. Maybe she does not exist. But I have
a feeling she did exist. I don't know.
[Tape edit here]
Saad Al Fagih. Back
the Agency, Monaco. Back