Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report


APPENDIX 7 (Continued)

W:  So what else did he do?

AM:  All the books. All the immediate tasks.

  [Inaudible question female interviewer: part of reply audible:-]

  It was articles commissioned for us.

W:  He published them?

AM:  No. We published them. He contacted the scientists, the scholars [papers rustled, goes through list of articles]. And he negotiated with them the cost; say £1,000 and so on.

W:  So he was like the editor or something?

AM:  No, no. Just the go between. Just to negotiate. Because he can approach people. He is well known. The people knew him so he can approach them and people can approach him without us appearing officially in the picture. So that they do not offend the Saudi regime or something like that.

W:  You had a press conference, was it, last August, in the House of Commons?

AM:  We had a number of conferences.

W:  In the Commons...?

  [Tape edit, conversation picks up again when Al Mass'ari appears to be showing

publications to the interviewer]

W:  -January was he chair of that?

AM:  He was the organiser.

W:  So he was the organiser. "Mass'ari must stay" campaign.

AM:  A comment about money and other people being needed for that.

W:  So there were a whole lot of conferences in the Commons booked by Galloway.

AM:  Yes. I had nothing to do with this booking at all. Obviously the booking has to be by the MP. Not for Hawks or something like that. The booking was of course, free of charge. The Member who books pays the costs. Of course, there are costs which Saad would pay. [Some words not audible]. Sometimes there were costs. He put in bills for [? things] etc. Sometimes not. Normally there were costs of a few pounds. Saad would repay the costs.

W:  Was there another MP who was working for Hawk? I think John said there was?

AM:  No.

W:  He means a Councillor, doesn't he?

AM:  There is Imran. There is a someone - I think David - from the Labour party in Glasgow.

W:  David Freeman?

AM:  I don't know. I don't know his name. A Labour party activist in Glasgow.

  [Question inaudible from a women interviewer about Glasgow]

AM:  No no. They made shirts "Mass'ari must stay". And stickers. They were used for my campaign. In Glasgow. When running for rector in Glasgow. That was one I think in January and one again in February. There would be stickers and shirts and so on [describes campaign].

W:  What was this business about the mail shots and some Tory MPs complained about it?

AM:  [Inaudible] He was for a considerable time, before he was forced to [inaudible]. He was sending out reports with a cover letter from himself in House of Commons envelopes. In the UK. Not the airmail.

W:  How many would that have been. How many would have gone out?

AM:  Hundreds. Maybe thousands, maybe even 15,000 [?]. The mailing lists that he gave us had not very many international addresses, but the UK addresses were considerable.

W:  You don't get those free?

AM:  What?

W:  The international ones aren't free?

AM:  No. So this once he gives us the envelopes. We just tucked them in and [? sealed - this word is not clear] and sent them.

W:  Which report was this?

AM:  Every few months there was a report. So three are out.

W:  So how many times did he do that?

AM:  For every report.

W:  So how many is that? 3 or 4?

AM:  For the UK addresses 1000-1300 or so.

W:  How many reports?

AM:  Three [gives titles].

W:  So you have had three reports and each one would have gone out to thousands of people.

AM:  [Inaudible sentence] But this one had a larger issue. Saad said [several words inaudible] so there is this one, the bigger one.

W:  So three reports and each went out to thousands in the UK?

AM:  Yes, this the bigger one.

W:  So that was what they were complaining about; what said was, we condemn him for the use of Commons facilities?

AM:  [Inaudible] Yes, but it was good for us, because we mailed [inaudible] them to address in the UK.

AM:  So I would say I don't think that in this relationship George made very much money: except-

W:  I am sorry. What was that?

AM:  I think George did not benefit financially over this, unless this secretary or half a secretary does not exist ... [several words inaudible], There is of course Imran. Imran is full-time with him. So I don't know. There may I suppose be something in this secretary or other. But I do not believe it was merely money-making, but the other aspects of the political and moral - [inaudible].

W:  What do you think - well obviously the Conservative MPs were annoyed anyway that Al Mass'ari was making use of House of Commons envelopes and all that to send out this mail shot?

AM:  It was because it was used for us.

W:  Do you think that they have go a point if they were to say that it is wrong for George Galloway to be giving you a hand by saving you some money at the taxpayers expense when he has already got this kind of business relationship?

AM:  No the fact that there was sent out our material, with his covering letter inside - this would bring him political prestige.

Womans voice: [Words inaudible] and these were House of Commons envelopes.

AM:  House of Commons envelopes, yes.

Womans voice: with his own paper, signed?

AM:  House of Commons envelopes, yes. The standard House of Commons envelopes. No postage is needed, "On Her Majesty's Service": no postage is needed. So this is what they complained about. They could not complain about the content. Very much. There is hardly a risk. All they can say is, fine, fine, this is nothing to do with the House of Commons, not House of Commons business. That is what they complained about.

W:  So the other thing he was doing was always putting forward early day motions, either about you personally or against the Saudi Arabian regime?

AM:  That's his habit.

W:  Yes, I know he does this all the time.

AM:  But I don't think there was anything. Because George is very sophisticated. A very intelligent man. Saad on his side is not only very tight - with money very tight, he is also suspicious. If George had ever indicated remotely that he wanted for any early day motion something Saad would react immediately. Saad is very odd [?] in this respect. He thinks others should work for him free. Any money, even from professionals, he is very tight. So any indication - if Saad ever got the feeling. Or if George ever said I am doing all these services and you should take that into consideration - any circumstances at all - then for Saad this immediately would have been a very [? bad thing]. And Saad kept very close relations with him. Until now. So I think that George was sufficiently sophisticated to avoid anything [like this?].

W:  So it is easy to expect an MP to put forward any motions he wanted to put, but if you also have, in parallel, you know-

AM:  Yes. You can discuss - I discussed with him, even after all this, [inaudible - perhaps "terms of early day motions"] He will say what do you think of this; what do you think of that. Nothing ever about money - "is this a good idea": that's all "should I have put a motion about this" - or "is this overkilling the matter". So it is like two friends. It is in no way connected with any other favour or any ... because it is not like that with me. So far as I am concerned it would be OK [one favour for another]. But Saad is not like this. In his company it would be very bad. His attitude is "if you support me, that fine". He would be repelled immediately. His nature is that area is over odd. So I am confident that there could not be anything like that.

W:  I am not suggesting that he, as Hawk, said "I am going to put down a motion". But it seems to me that if you have got a business relationship with someone, in parallel, then you are going to be more helpful - he would be easier got on the phone than another MP and so on?

AM:  Well, yes - but he would never allow it to appear like that. The only time I ever came to know the name of Hawk was when he wrote that first proposal. And then the name of Hawk was mentioned once or twice in our relationship, that is all.

W:  On the proposal-

AM:  He only ever once made a proposal of that kind. Our relationship was with George. With Hawk, I never had anything with Hawk to do. For the reports I explain. They came in draft form. In A4. Then we convey them to Clark Express documents. Putting out of the tables in the form of graphs and so on is done by Imran. Imran comes here. He works in the evening upstairs on these tables. And [inaudible] under George's instructions [describes Imran's work].

  [Tape interrupted]

AM:  [Inaudible comment]

Womans voice: Is George still working for [inaudible]?

AM:  He is not giving me that impression. I said I don't want to get involved. I will help you both as much as I can. What can you do [inaudible]. He contacted me yesterday: yesterday he was very excited. Even yesterday - and for just one year. Because [conversation apparently unrelated to CDLR]. He expects from George the [usual ?]. And things for his family.

W:  You said just now that he had put in a proposal for PR work. This was after he was already working for CDLR?

AM:  Yes, before that it was informal. He makes this - he said there is this and this for stationery, this and this for inviting people. This and this for a ticket for someone or other. On occasion, £300, £400. All these costs were very small. There was never any big money involved here. Small amount money. On a month to month basis. Or a job to job basis. It was informal. Only at the beginning he would say "if I do this thing there is a cost".

W:  When he had done something. When he had done a piece of work. Did he just say, did he send put in an invoice?

AM:  Not always. Sometimes he would say orally how much. It was very informal. But when he discussed with Saad doing PR for us instead of John and Pat, Saad said we need something we can read and discuss. Most likely Saad was not very comfortable about spending more money. So after that it came in writing. I took it upstairs. I read it once or twice. Saad has his own copy. He said it sounds good. George is for our cause - [inaudible] while these are professionals. Somehow he did not like John and Pat. Whereas my way is not to like or dislike. I thought this would not be very wise [inaudible] - so there were areas which George would never be able to do. They could concentrate on the media, television etc, etc, while George would concentrate on the community and the Parliament, the politicians. So Saad eventually said that's it.

W:  He put together his proposal and put it to you after the speaking tour or before?

AM:  [surprised] oh before, I said - much before - April, May maximum.

W:  So you actually took it up in a sense?

AM:  Yes. It is a formal contract in the sense of "we agree". So, it is not in writing possibly. But yes, we agree. So its a compact.

W:  So you shook hands on it?

AM:  Oh yes. The conversation was very friendly. There was no problem not having a contract. I don't think George wanted anything in writing.

  [Interruption]

W:  You just said that he did not want anything in writing. What was all that about?

AM:  No, I don't think that the contract was written. [Inaudible] I guess he did not want anyone to know that Hawks was doing anything for CDLR or for the Arabs cause.

W:  He did not want it. You don't know why?

AM:  Yes.

W:  He did not want anything in writing linking Hawk with CDLR.

AM:  Him as a person fine. But Hawk probably not. He did not want anything. Though the relationship with Hawks was minimal. In my interpretation still, very minimal.

W:  It seems to me that he was in a business relationship with a human rights cause. He would presumably be embarrassed about it.

AM:  I [suppose ?] it's possible. Though his co-operation - this relationship was not ... mainly for money. So there should be no problem in itself. Because [inaudible sentence]

W:  I have nothing else to ask but I wonder if we might try to find the contract.

AM:  The offer.

W:  I'm sorry; the offer. [Discussion where they might find the offer]

End of tape

INTERVIEW BY MARK WATTS ("W"), A FREELANCE JOURNALIST WITH DR SAAD AL FAGIH

  ("AF"), DIRECTOR OF THE COMMITTEE FOR THE DEFENCE OF LEGITIMATE RIGHTS (CDLR)

W:  Does it matter how you get your message across in Parliament: Here to this country. Are you constantly giving press conferences in the House of Commons. Getting Early Day Motions put down and so on. How does that happen?

AF:  We have a least two good friends in Parliament. One is George Galloway and one is Lord Avebury. They have been very helpful. Very co-operative. Providing parliamentary facilities and that sort of thing. My belief is that your credibility is based on your influence in your own country. And the British would not have [inaudible] a principle for the sake of business. We are most happy to [inaudible]

W:  And the help that George Galloway provided for press conferences &c. ...? You met him I think through Said Aburishe. Did you use his PR company to deal with press conferences or publicity and so on?

AF:  No. He and Lord Avebury were in those days very much in our favour, personally. As far as we know. They help us in the sense of making it easier to go to Parliament. George Galloway, he used his influence as an MP here. We were not using his as a PR. In our experience both of them have had the same position for some time. George has been an active politician here for quite a time. He has developed activity in Kashmir, in Hindustan. And he is very well known to other friends. So he is the correct man to have Parliamentary advice from. Very much with the right experience.

W:  But there are two sides here are there not? There is one side as an MP being very helpful in Parliament. And on the other and his PR company could help with PR?

AF:  We do not deal with him for PR at all. We have other PR which is [unfamiliar name: in arabic?] I think.

W:  I thought you were using Hawk as well?

AF:  We considered this but we thought this is going to be unwise using Hawk because people would say "no, he is only doing it for the money, the practice of PR. It will make his services and advice less helpful. His advice and his service would be as sincere as it would be, without money. So we thought it would be better not to have - to do this without contract.

W:  He does it without a contract. So what does he actually do? On the PR side?

AF:  Well he has helped us with one or two press conferences in the House of Commons. This has nothing to do with [? PR]. He doesn't do this for money. If any costs are needed to bring in a crew or somebody to take [recordings ?] for us, we pay for this. It is not George Galloway's job or Lord Avebury's to pay for this. But that is totally parliamentary. Nothing to do with money at all. What else? He knows some journalists and tries [inaudible]. Whether he is successful or not - I do not know. He has other experience-

W:  When he is doing your press conferences or something like that - there would be no costs. I thought he did other things. But on the PR side, I thought he organised a speaking tour where-

AF:  Why are you so keen on all of this?

W:  It is interesting, isn't it. First of all providing support - PR support - on the House of Commons. And, on the other hand, providing parliamentary support-

AF:  Interesting for you perhaps. With all respect, I don't want to give destructive information to incriminate somebody. [Inaudible] As far as I know - of course there may be something I do not know - but up to now I believe that what this man has done he has done for personal belief. He believes in what we are doing. Spending time and effort because this is his belief. And he has done this sort of work for some other people [gives arabic names] who had similar problems and he had done this without pay. What we pay him is the cost of a room or the cost of a conference or the cost of a [film] crew, or the cost of a lunch or the cost of a trip. We are fully convinced that this man is [several inaudible words]

W:  Did he, in the course of last year, - my impression from Al Mass'ari was that he [? provided] CDLR's PR strategy last year - "this is what I can do for you, don't use Pat and John. Use my company ..."

AF:  First of all he has never [organised CDLR' strategy ?]. Second, he never put any proposal. We asked him for advice, to help us in the idea of how to run our campaign. As a politician and as a journalist. He is still there. He used to write and he still writes. Alright, we are using someone who is not in the centre of Parliament. He is not liked a lot by many parliamentarians. But what can you do. Because of Saudi [? pressure] other people do not want to deal with us. This man, as far as we know, is very much in favour of our campaign. We have to appreciate that. As for providing help and support we have to be grateful.

W:  Let us get his clear. Did you not have a discussion internally within CDLR in which you discussed what you were going to do. Whether to have Hawk-

AF:  Do we have to discuss this subject? It is now almost an allegation.

W:  I just want to get to the bottom of this subject.

AF:  I have told you [? the position]. It might be interesting for you not [? for me]. You can ask for this information from someone else. But I don't want to be involved in this. I believe totally that George Galloway was doing this [inaudible] cause. This was his reason. Not for the sake of any money. He gave his time which might have been [? spent] somewhere else for the sake of CDLR. As far as I know, God knows the scripts [?], as far as I know he did this [inaudible] he did this for his personal life. Anything else we have not covered?

W:  Did you have a discussion with Al Mass'ari about using George Galloway's PR company?

AF:  I had a discussion with Mass'ari whether to involve George Galloway more or less. Nothing about his PR company.

W:  Have you ever heard of Hawk?

AF:  It is known to me. But I have never dealt with him as someone as a client but as an experienced politician giving me very good advice.

W:  He never wrote to you on Hawk letterheads.

AF:  Well, once or twice, but the contents were not business [inaudible] - notes about his impressions of meetings, that sort of thing.

W:  It is interesting that he was very prominent in the campaign with Al Mass'ari in-

AF:  Can you turn that off please.

End of Tape


 
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