Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report


APPENDIX 7

Transcription made on behalf of the previous Committee of the microcassette submitted to
the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards together with the complaint

INTERVIEW BY MARK WATTS ("W"), A FREELANCE JOURNALIST, WITH PROFESSOR
MUHAMMAD AL MASS'ARI ("AM"), SECRETARY GENERAL AND SPOKESMAN, CDLR

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 public?

AM:  Yes. I spoke. Sometimes Saad[33] 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 organise this?

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[34] 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-

W:  Right

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 conference?

AM:  Yes.

W:  Deal with the tickets?

AM:  Yes, someone - someone for Hawk.

W:  Travel?

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?

AM:  Mine.

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 them[35] 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.

W:  [Interruption] Thank you very much.

AM:  But I am not really sure. The papers are upstairs. Looked after by my wife [?]. I do not know.

  [Interruption]

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, yes.

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' reporter]

CH:?  [Indistinct] 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 title.

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 by Hawk?

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 well.

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.[36] They suggest to tour round the country. A speaking tour. They were very upset that George took that.

W:  So when was the speaking tour?

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 of them-

W:  When did you say - when did you say that?

AM:  That was early summer 95

W:  Right

AM:  So it was at the time formally concluded, at that time not [words inaudible].

  [Interruption]

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 tour?

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 -

  [Interruption]

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 cost?

AM:  No, already costing it. Previously. What he was doing for us already.

W:  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 doing it?

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 much!

  [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 came up.

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?

AM:  No.

W:  I don't know what you think, but all this business about we are just charging what is costs us-?

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 charged.

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]


33  Dr Saad Al Fagih. Back

34  Presumably Monaco. Back

35  Presumably the Agency, Monaco. Back

36  Presumably, Monaco. Back


 
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