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Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Sixth Report


Appendix 1: Memorandum from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards


Complaints against Mr George Galloway

The Complaints

1. On 22 April 2003 the Daily Telegraph reported the discovery of documents in Baghdad by one of its reporters, Mr David Blair, which, it said, indicated that Mr George Galloway (then the Member for Glasgow, Kelvin; now the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow) had received some £375,000 from the former Iraqi regime, under the guise in part of the United Nations Oil for Food programme. The main headline over the front page article attributed to Mr Blair announcing the discovery of the documents read:

"Galloway was in Saddam's pay, say secret Iraqi documents."

Underneath, three sub-headings read:

"Labour MP 'received at least £375,000 a year'"

"Cash came from Oil for Food programme"

"Papers could have been forged, he says"

A copy of the full text of the article is appended.[130] Further articles appeared on subsequent days, as referred to in paragraphs 8-11 below.

2. On 28 April 2003 I received a telephone call from Mr Andrew Robathan (the Member for Blaby) enquiring whether I had yet received a request to investigate the allegations made in the Daily Telegraph concerning Mr Galloway. When he learned that I had not yet received such a request, Mr Robathan wrote immediately, noting that none of the money allegedly paid to Mr Galloway had been declared in the Register of Members' Interests and asking me to examine "these extremely serious allegations."[131]

3. On the same day that I received Mr Robathan's letter, I also saw one from a member of the public, Mr Andrew Yale, dated 26 April, asking me to enquire into recent media reports about Mr Galloway.[132]

4. On the receipt of these letters of complaint I immediately e-mailed Mr Galloway to alert him to them. Mr Galloway responded promptly, confirming that he had begun proceedings for libel against both the Daily Telegraph and the Christian Science Monitor and arguing that any further consideration by me of the complaints would be prejudicial to those proceedings. An inquiry by the Charity Commission was also, he said, possible.

5. I wrote to Mr Galloway later on 29 April 2003[133] enclosing a copy of the two letters of complaint. I added that I would be concerned to ensure that any investigation I conducted should not prejudice the impending legal actions or cut across any other inquiries. I intended therefore to make inquiries about any other investigations in progress and to report the position to the Committee on Standards and Privileges when it met on 6 May, following which I would let him know how I intended to proceed.

6. Mr Galloway replied on 30 April 2003.[134] In it, he denied—as he had done consistently since the allegations were first put to him by the Daily Telegraph—ever receiving any money from the former Iraqi regime:

"I confirm to you that I have received no income which should have been registered with the Members' Interests and I have no business interests which are unregistered."

He insisted that any parliamentary inquiry would be both prejudicial to his libel actions and biased against him. He concluded:

"If after the court cases the committee felt there were matters for them which arose, that would be the time to hold such an inquiry."

7. As I had told Mr Galloway, I reported receipt of the complaints and my exchanges with him to the Committee on Standards and Privileges when it met on 6 May 2003. Later the same day, I wrote to Mr Galloway and subsequently issued a statement in which I announced that I was beginning preliminary inquiries into the allegations which had been reported by the Daily Telegraph concerning Mr Galloway. Whilst being conscious of the need to avoid prejudicing Mr Galloway's two libel actions, I understood that these were still at a very preliminary stage. The allegations were serious and it would not be in the public interest for an investigation of them to be unreasonably delayed.[135]

The Daily Telegraph Documents

8. The documents allegedly found by the Daily Telegraph reporter, Mr David Blair, in Baghdad were extensively reported in the paper between 22 and 24 April 2003. On 22 April, the paper published, in facsimile and in translation, the text of two documents reported to have been found by Mr Blair in the partially damaged Foreign Ministry building in Baghdad shortly after the fall of the previous Iraqi regime. These purported to be:

a)  A memorandum by the Head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (the Mukhabarat) to the office of President Saddam Hussein dated 3 January 2000 about the Mariam Campaign, in which the Head of the Intelligence Service reported on a meeting said to have taken place on 26 December 1999 in Baghdad between Mr Galloway, Mr Fawaz Zureikat and an officer of the Iraqi Intelligence Service. According to the memorandum, Mr Galloway—who, it said, was already in receipt of income of 10-15 cents per barrel from three million barrels of oil awarded to him by Mr Tariq Aziz under the UN Oil for Food programme, as well as other income from food contracts with the Iraqi Ministry of Trade—had sought further funding through additional oil contracts and the grant of other "exceptional commercial and contractual facilities." The translation of this memorandum which appeared in the Daily Telegraph is appended. [136] For convenience, I refer subsequently to this document as 'the Intelligence Chief's memo'.

b)  A memorandum from the Deputy Prime Minister and acting Foreign Minister, Mr Tariq Aziz dated 5 February 2000 addressed to four other Iraqi Government Ministers headed 'Work Programme', which purported to forward for action a copy of a work programme for the year 2000 submitted by Mr Galloway which had been cleared by the President's Office. (This work programme was not, however, found with the memorandum.[137]) A translation of this memorandum (subsequently referred to here as 'the Tariq Aziz memo') appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 22 April 2003.[138]

9. The same edition of the paper included a copy of an undated letter found by Mr Blair in Baghdad signed by Mr Galloway, in which he nominated Mr Fawaz Zureikat as:

"my representative in Baghdad on all matters concerning my work with the 'Mariam Appeal' or the Emergency Committee in Iraq."[139]

Mr Galloway has, in evidence to me, accepted the authenticity of this document. [140]

10. The following day (23 April 2003) the Daily Telegraph reported the discovery by Mr Blair in the same location of a further related document. This was a memorandum dated 2 May 2000 and signed by General Abdid Hamid Al-Khattab of the President's secretariat. The memorandum—addressed to four Iraqi ministers—purported to constitute the Presidential response to the Intelligence Chief's memo. It indicated that President Saddam Hussein had ordered Mr Galloway's request to be studied by a four man committee and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, but had indicated that he did not think the "exceptional support" sought by Mr Galloway could be afforded.[141]

11. On 24 April 2003, the Daily Telegraph published a further memorandum which purported to record the result of the consideration of Mr Galloway's request by the ministerial committee. The memorandum, signed by the committee's chairman, Izzat Ibrahim (the then Deputy Chairman of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council), said that the four man committee and the Foreign Minister had discussed the Intelligence Chief's memo and recommended:

a)  Continuing cooperation with Mr Galloway "about the oil contracts and other commercial contracts";

b)  The Mukhabarat (Iraqi Intelligence Service) should not be engaged in the relationship with Mr Galloway as "discovery of his relationship with the Mukhabarat would damage him very much";

c)  Cooperation between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mr Tariq Aziz "in selecting and looking after the people and organizations which ask for financial support in future in return for initiatives to support the Iraqi position".[142]

12. The publication of this material by the Daily Telegraph understandably attracted world-wide attention. Among much related media coverage, the Christian Science Monitor published on 25 April 2003 an account of different documents said to have been found in Baghdad which indicated payments of more than $10 million to Mr Galloway.

13. The documents in question were subsequently subjected to forensic analysis. On 20 June 2003 the Christian Science Monitor reported that the documents it had published were clearly forgeries. A libel action brought by Mr Galloway against that paper was subsequently settled out of court, the settlement including the payment of substantial damages to Mr Galloway.

14. Mr Galloway has drawn my attention to reports in the Mail on Sunday of documents offered to, and bought by, it in 2003 which also appeared to implicate him in dealings with the Saddam Hussein regime. A report appeared in that newspaper on 11 May 2003 to the effect that these documents had been examined by Dr Audrey Giles (the same forensic expert who later examined the Daily Telegraph documents on behalf of that paper) and had been shown to be forgeries. As a consequence, they were never published, and they have not been the subject of any inquiries by me.

15. Mr Galloway argues that the existence of two sets of documents which have been shown to be forgeries is evidence of a conspiracy against him. However, the documents reported by Telegraph Group Limited (publishers of the Daily Telegraph) were entirely separate from those received by the Mail on Sunday and from those published by the Christian Science Monitor. The fact that both these latter sets of documents were found to be forgeries does not cast light, one way or the other, on the authenticity of the Daily Telegraph's documents. Nonetheless I have had my own forensic analysis made of the Telegraph documents, the outcome of which I describe later in this report (see paragraphs 109-113 below).

Mr Galloway's Libel Action Against the Telegraph Group Limited

16. Since Mr Galloway's libel action against the publishers of the Daily Telegraph (to which I referred in paragraph 4 above) has significantly slowed down the progress of my inquiries, it may be appropriate if I refer briefly now to its implications for those inquiries.

17. In November 2003, I received a letter from Mr Galloway's solicitor expressing 'extreme concern' that my continuing investigations would be prejudicial to Mr Galloway's libel claims and saying that he had therefore advised his client not to supply any further information to me until after the determination of those proceedings. Having myself taken legal advice—which was to the effect that disposing of the complaints before those proceedings were determined could in certain circumstances be prejudicial—I concluded (and the Committee on Standards and Privileges agreed[143]) that I should not press my inquiries of Mr Galloway until the outcome of the action was known, but should continue to pursue such other lines of inquiry as were open to me.

18. Mr Galloway's action came to a hearing in the High Court before Mr Justice Eady on 15-17 and 19 November 2004. Mr Justice Eady gave judgment on the issues before him on 2 December 2004. In brief he found that the allegations published in the Daily Telegraph on 22-23 April 2003 were seriously defamatory of Mr Galloway and that Mr Galloway had not been given fair or reasonable opportunity to consider them before they were published. The Daily Telegraph was not protected by privilege at common law in making the allegations, or by the defence of fair comment. He awarded Mr Galloway damages of £150,000.

19. The Daily Telegraph did not seek to justify the truthfulness of the documents in the libel case, simply to defend its right to have published them. As the judge observed:

"There has been no plea of justification in this case, and accordingly it has not been part of my function to rule directly upon the truth or otherwise of the underlying allegations [against Mr Galloway]."[144]

Indeed Mr Justice Eady made clear that in reaching a judgment on the issues before him he saw:

". . .no reason to suppose that [these judicial proceedings] will in any way infringe Parliamentary privilege or give any appearance of inhibiting Parliament's wide-ranging powers of investigation into the conduct of one of its Members."[145]

20. The Telegraph Group subsequently sought and was granted leave to appeal against Mr Justice Eady's judgment. The appeal was heard in the Appeal Court in October 2005. In a reserved judgment given on 25 January 2006, the appeal was dismissed. The following month the Telegraph Group Limited made it known that it would not be seeking leave to appeal to the House of Lords on the matter. So in February 2006 the way finally became clear for my inquiries to proceed to a conclusion.

21. It is important to my inquiries to note that the action brought by Mr Galloway did not establish the truthfulness or otherwise of the allegations made in the documents the Daily Telegraph had published. Throughout the action Mr Galloway vigorously insisted that the documents, and the accompanying stories published by the Daily Telegraph were untrue. However, as I have noted, the Telegraph Group rested its defence, not on the claim that what they said was true, but on its right to have published them. For the purposes of my inquiry the authenticity of the Telegraph documents stands or falls on their own merits, not on the extent to which they were relied upon in the libel action.

The Main Allegations concerning Mr Galloway

22. In a short summary of his conclusions issued alongside his judgment, Mr Justice Eady described the allegations conveyed by the articles published by the Daily Telegraph as including the following:

a)  Mr Galloway had been in the pay of Saddam Hussein, secretly receiving sums of money in the order of £375,000 a year.

b)  He diverted monies from the Oil for Food Programme, thus depriving the Iraqi people, whose interests he had claimed to represent, of food and medicines.

c)  He probably used the Mariam Appeal as a front for personal enrichment.

d)  What he had done was tantamount to treason.

The assumptions underlying these allegations are that Mr Galloway was a knowing party in the diversion of monies from the Oil for Food programme (either directly or through the Mariam Appeal) into his own pocket.

23. The documents reported by the Daily Telegraph are also capable of other sets of interpretation. These include:

a)  That money from the former Iraqi regime went to support not Mr Galloway personally but his political activities in favour of the lifting of UN sanctions against Iraq. The money came via the mechanism of the Oil for Food programme and the Mariam Appeal. Mr Zureikat (and perhaps others) were the channel through which the money came. Mr Galloway was either an innocent or a knowing party to such an arrangement.

b)  The documents were forgeries or, at least, their contents were untrue. This has throughout been Mr Galloway's interpretation of them. One possibility—claimed by Mr Galloway at various points—is that the documents were fabricated by his political enemies. Another is that Mr Galloway's name was misused, possibly by Mr Zureikat or by other persons unknown, to obtain Oil for Food contracts for their own purposes.

As what follows indicates, I have borne all these possibilities in mind in pursuing my inquiries.

Relevant provisions of the Code and Guide to the Rules

24. Against the background of this summary of the possibilities evoked by the Telegraph documents and before describing the course of my inquiries and analysing the evidence they have uncovered, it may be helpful if I set out the potentially relevant provisions of the Code of Conduct and the Guide to the Rules on the Conduct of Members. As the principal events relating to the allegations occurred in 1999-2002, it will be appropriate to refer to those provisions in the edition of the Code and Guide in effect at that time. This was, prior to 14 May 2002, the edition approved by the House on 24 July 1996 (HC 688, Session 1995-96). In fact the principal relevant provisions have been little altered in substance—if altered at all—since that time.

25. First, under the Code of Conduct:

a)  Members are required to 'fulfill conscientiously the requirements of the House in respect of the registration of interests in the Register of Members' Interests' and always to draw attention to any relevant interest in any proceedings of the House or its Committees, or in any communications with Ministers, Government Departments or Executive Agencies.

I identify the potentially relevant aspects of the Rules on registration and declaration of interests below.

b)  The Code provides that:

"No Member shall act as a paid advocate in any proceeding of the House."

This succinct provision echoes a broader Resolution of the House dated 15 July 1947 (as amended on 6 November 1995) which includes the following:

". . .in particular no Member of the House shall, in consideration of any remuneration, fee, payment, reward or benefit in kind, direct or indirect, which the Member or any member of his or her family has received, is receiving, or expects to receive

(i) advocate or initiate any cause or matter on behalf of any outside body or individual, or

(ii) urge any other Member of either House of Parliament, including Ministers, to do so,

by means of any speech, Question, Motion, introduction of a Bill or amendment to a Motion or Bill, or any approach, whether oral or in writing, to Ministers or servants of the Crown."  

If it were found to be the case that Mr Galloway or a member of his family had received, directly or indirectly, benefits from the former Iraqi regime in consideration of which he had advocated its cause in the House or to Ministers, questions would arise under this provision of the Code.

c)  The Code provides that:

"Members shall at all times conduct themselves in a manner which will tend to maintain and strengthen the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of Parliament and never undertake any action which would bring the House of Commons, or its Members generally, into disrepute."

If it were to be the case that Mr Galloway had, recklessly or knowingly, improperly received monies from a foreign government, directly or indirectly, either for his personal gain or in support of his political activities on behalf of policies favoured by that Government, the question would arise whether he had thereby brought the House as an institution, as distinct from himself personally, into disrepute.

26. The Rules relating to the registration and declaration of Interests which are relevant can be found in categories 4(b) (Sponsorships), 5 (Gifts, benefits and hospitality (UK)) and 7 (Overseas benefits and gifts) of the Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members. The Rules in force prior to 14 May 2002 provided that Members should register:

"Category 4—sponsorships:

(b) Any other form of sponsorship or financial or material support as a Member of Parliament which involves any personal payment, benefit, or advantage. If any of these arrangements involve payment to the Member or any material benefit or advantage which the Member personally receives this should be indicated."

They went on to define the obligation to register such sponsorship or support in these terms:

"Subsection (b) relates to other forms of sponsorship, which is interpreted to cover any regular or continuing support from companies or organisations from which the Member receives any financial or material benefit in support of his or her role as a Member of Parliament. Members should register any sponsorship arrangement in which they are personally involved and irrespective of whether they receive personal payment."

27. Category 7 of the then Rules provided that Members should register and declare:

"Overseas Benefits and gifts: Any gift to the Member or the Member's spouse of greater value than £125 or any material advantage of a value greater than 0.5 percent of the current parliamentary salary from or on behalf of any investment, organisation or person which in any way relates to membership of the House."

28. Category 5 included a similar requirement in relation to gifts or benefits from UK sources. All of these provisions were altered somewhat when the House approved new Rules on 14 May 2002. In particular, category 4 (b) now reads:

"(b) any other form of financial or material support as a Member of Parliament, amounting to more than £1,000 from a single source, whether as a single donation or as multiple donations of more than £200 during the course of a calendar year."

Category 7 now reads:

"Overseas benefits and gifts: Any gift to the Member or the Member's spouse or partner, or any material advantage, of a value greater than 1 percent of the current parliamentary salary from or on behalf of any company, organisation or person overseas which in any way relates to membership of the House."

However, apart from the changes in the thresholds above which Members are required to register interests in these categories, their substance, as can be seen, is very similar to that of the previous provisions.

29. As previously noted (paragraph 25(c) above), the Code of Conduct provides that Members must not undertake any action which would bring the House, or its Members generally, into disrepute. As I have argued before[146], this means that a Member has an obligation under the Code to protect the reputation of Parliament and not to bring it into disrepute. If he or she is reckless or negligent of that duty, he or she may be just as much in breach of the Code as if he or she had deliberately acted in a way which brought the House into disrepute. Moreover, this obligation extends, in my submission, to the manner in which a Member fulfils his or her other duties under the Code, including the obligation to register a financial or pecuniary interest. I conclude that were it to be the case that Mr Galloway had knowingly or negligently received, either directly or indirectly (for example through the Mariam Appeal), from the former Iraqi regime, a gift, sponsorship or financial or material support or advantage, in consequence of his membership of the House, its receipt should, if it exceeded the relevant thresholds, have been recorded in the Register of Members' Interests.

30. There are two other aspects of the Code and Guide to the Rules which, for the sake of completeness, it may be appropriate to mention at this point. First, a Member is required to declare any relevant pecuniary interest or benefit of whatever nature, whether direct or indirect, in a debate or proceeding in the House.[147] Secondly, a Member is precluded from advocating a course of action which seeks to confer benefit exclusively upon a body outside Parliament from which a Member has received, is receiving, or expects to receive a pecuniary benefit (the advocacy rule).[148] The guidance on the advocacy rule in the Guide to the Rules is clearly relevant to the provisions on paid advocacy in the Code of Conduct described in paragraph 25 (b) above.

Mr Galloway's Register Entries

31. It is important at this point to record that, over the years, Mr Galloway has included numerous entries relating to Iraq in the Register of Members' Interests. Those he has registered from 1991 to the end of the 2001-05 Parliament are listed at Volume II, WE 9. It can be seen that a number of these relate to visits to Iraq, some of them paid for by the Mariam Appeal or by the Great Britain-Iraq Society.

32. The inclusion of entries relating to these visits, etc would not, however, be enough to discharge Mr Galloway's obligations under the Code of Conduct if he had benefited personally from financial support from the former Iraqi regime or his political activities as a Member had so benefited. Any benefit received from the regime would be separately registrable, whether it was received in a personal capacity or in support of Mr Galloway's political activities as a Member. I return to consider this and related matters later in this report, after setting out the relevant evidence.

Relevant Declarations of Interest by Mr Galloway

33. As I have noted in paragraph 30, the obligation to register is not the only obligation in respect of interests imposed on Members by the Code of Conduct. As well as ensuring that there is a permanent public record (the Register) of their pecuniary interests, they are also expected to draw the attention of the House (and by extension the public) to any interests which are particularly relevant to a parliamentary proceeding in which they are taking part at the time at which they are doing so. This is done by declaring the interest, either orally at the beginning of a speech or, in the case of written notices of motions, amendments and questions, by annotating the printed notice with an 'R'[149]

34. The obligation to declare goes beyond the obligation to register, in that it applies to past and expected interests as well as current ones, and to indirect as well as to direct interests. In addition, there is a convention that relevant unremunerated interests, as well as remunerated ones, should be declared. While such declaration is not required under any Resolution of the House, I would regard Mr Galloway's interest in the Emergency Committee for Iraq, the Great Britain-Iraq Society or the Mariam Appeal, whether remunerated or not, as grounds for him to make a declaration when taking part in any parliamentary proceedings relating to Iraq or the sanctions against it.

35. I have consulted the parliamentary records (Hansard and the Early Day Motion database) for sessions 1997-98, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2001-02 and 2002-03 for interventions by Mr Galloway. During those sessions, among many contributions about foreign policy, Mr Galloway initiated three adjournment debates, made a number of substantive speeches in other debates and tabled two early day motions (EDMs) and a number of written parliamentary questions specifically relating to sanctions on Iraq.

36. In an adjournment debate on 'The Middle East' on 27 March 1998, Mr Galloway said 'I was in three Arab countries—Syria, Jordan and Iraq—to which I travelled at the expense of, and in my capacity as, Chairman of the Emergency Committee on Iraq'[150]. In another on 25 November 1998[151], entitled 'The Gulf Crisis', in which he discussed in detail the effect of sanctions on Iraq, he made no declaration. On 29 June 1999[152] he began an adjournment debate, on Iraq, 'I declare an interest, in that I am chairman of the Mariam Appeal for cancer victims in Iraq, which has received support from the Governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates'. No 'R' appeared on the Order Paper on any of these occasions. When making other speeches in the House he made no relevant declaration.

37. On 5 April 2000 Mr Galloway tabled an EDM entitled 'Breaking the Air Embargo on Iraq'[153] and on 5 February 2001 one entitled 'Christian Aid Agencies' Report on Iraq'[154], but made no declaration in respect of either of these. Written questions about sanctions, for instance those tabled on 22 March 2000[155] and 5 February 2001[156], also bore no indication of an interest.

My Inquiries

38. I do not need to spell out in detail the nature of the inquiries I have made following receipt of the complaints against Mr Galloway. They have fallen into the following main areas:

a)  Inquiries of the Daily Telegraph about the circumstances in which that paper's reporter, Mr David Blair discovered the documents which form the basis of the allegations against Mr Galloway, and such other checks as I could undertake of the provenance and authenticity of the documents, including their forensic examination;

b)  Consideration of the evidence submitted in the proceedings in the High Court brought by Mr Galloway against the Daily Telegraph. With the cooperation of both the parties, I have been supplied with copies of the written witness statements and accompanying exhibits, as well as transcripts of the oral cross-examination of witnesses in court;

c)  Analysis of bank statements and other material relating to the Mariam Appeal forwarded to me by the Charity Commission, with the consent of Mr Galloway and other parties, following the Commission's own inquiry in relation to the Appeal (on which see paragraphs 121-124 below), supplemented by some inquiries of certain people active in relation to the Appeal (notably of its Treasurer and its Director of Operations);

d)  Inquiries of the United Nations and particularly of the Independent Inquiry Committee led by Mr Paul Volcker into allegations surrounding the running of the UN Oil for Food programme. I have also received other material relating to the Programme from various quarters, including the US Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations, before which Mr Galloway testified on 17 May 2005.

e)  Inquiries of the present Iraqi Government and attempts to interview Mr Tariq Aziz, Mr Fawaz Zureikat and other potential witnesses abroad. The fact that a number of witnesses are outside UK jurisdiction and have not responded to approaches from me means that I have had to rely in those cases on what they are reported to have said to others. But I have in all cases attempted to contact such witnesses directly and to verify in any way I can the authenticity of the reports of what they have said.

f)  The interviewing of other witnesses in London.

g)  Inquiries of Mr Galloway himself.

39. I have included at Annex 1 a list of the principal people I have mentioned in this report, including those from whom I have taken evidence. It will be clear from what I have said that, as well as conducting my own inquiries, I have sought to keep in touch with, and where relevant take appropriate account of the findings of, other inquiries conducted into the affairs surrounding Mr Galloway, of which there have come to be a number. In what follows, I identify carefully in each case the source of the information to which I refer.

40. In setting out, in paragraphs 45 and following below, the key points in the evidence I have gathered, I begin by considering the documents uncovered by Mr David Blair. I then describe the nature of the Mariam Appeal and what is known about the way it operated, before outlining the Oil for Food programme and the information apparently relating Mr Galloway and Mr Zureikat to that. I continue with an account of the evidence which bears on the question whether Mr Galloway either himself solicited money from the former Iraqi regime or knew that others were doing so on his behalf, before describing the response made by Mr Galloway to the various allegations against him, summarizing the evidence in relation to the key issues and then setting out my assessment of that evidence and my conclusions as to its implications for the evaluation of Mr Galloway's conduct in relation to the standards expected of him as a Member.

41. I have sought in the paragraphs which follow to set out the available evidence in an even-handed and accurate way, not at this point offering any view as to its relative weight. The evidence is not, in my judgement, all of the same weight, nor do I attach equal significance to each piece of it. At this point, however, I simply lay out all the relevant material, reserving an appreciation of the quality of the different pieces of evidence until the concluding sections of my report.

The Key Questions and the Standard of Proof

42. Although the evidence I have amassed is voluminous, the issues at stake are relatively simple to state and may, perhaps, best be summarised in a series of questions. My focus has been purely on Mr Galloway's obligations to the House of Commons as a Member, not on any wider obligations he may have as a citizen under the law. The over-arching question, for my inquiry is therefore:

43. To help shed light on that question I have addressed a number of subsidiary questions:

a)  The Telegraph Documents:

i)  Are they authentic, i.e. are they genuine documents, as opposed to forgeries or fakes?

ii)  Are their contents credible, having regard to the totality of the evidence?

b)  What was the nature of the Mariam Appeal and of the roles of Mr Galloway and Mr Fawaz Zureikat in relation to it?

c)  Did Mr Galloway directly or indirectly through his appointed representative in Baghdad, Mr Fawaz Zureikat, gain any benefit from moneys derived, either through the Oil for Food Programme or by other means, from the former Iraqi regime?

d)  If the answer to c) is 'yes', did Mr Galloway know that he was receiving support, either personally or for his activities in relation to the Mariam Appeal, from the former Iraqi regime, or was he reckless or negligent in respect of the receipt of such support?

It may assist the reader in digesting what follows to keep these key questions in mind as I recount the material uncovered by my inquiries.

44. In assessing the evidence which follows, I have applied the normal test of the balance of probabilities. Of course, if I had found clear evidence that Mr Galloway had corruptly obtained money, that would be a matter to be tested in the criminal courts to a higher standard of proof, and I would have had no hesitation in advising the Committee that the matter should be handed over to the police. However, my focus throughout has been entirely on Mr Galloway's obligations to the House. In that respect the civil standard of proof—the balance of probabilities—appears to be the appropriate one to apply, both in evaluating the evidence and, later, in assessing whether or not Mr Galloway has fully met those obligations. At the same time I have been conscious of the Committee's view that it may be appropriate to apply a higher standard of proof in certain circumstances.[157] I return to consider this point, in the light of the available evidence, in the concluding sections of this report.

1.  The Daily Telegraph Documents

(A) HOW THEY WERE FOUND: MR DAVID BLAIR'S ACCOUNT

45. Having previously inspected the originals of the documents published by the Daily Telegraph,[158] I interviewed Mr David Blair on 14 August 2003, when he gave me his account of how he had found them.[159]

46. Mr Blair told me that at the time of the events in question he had been on his fifth visit to Iraq, having first visited it in April 2002. During his earlier visits to Iraq he had met Mr Galloway only once, co-incidentally. On that occasion Mr Galloway had been accompanied by eight or nine journalists and 'a couple' of Labour MPs. Mr Blair had been in the company of another journalist, Mr Ewen McAskill, Diplomatic Editor of the Guardian, and the parties had met by chance in the Al Rashid Hotel. Mr Blair had no particular interest in Mr Galloway or, having been out of England for most of the time since 1998, in UK politics in general. There was no question at any time of his having been asked by his editors to look for stories on Mr Galloway.

47. Mr Blair had been withdrawn from Baghdad, with other Telegraph personnel, on 18 March 2003, prior to the Coalition invasion. He had re-entered it on 11 April 2003, staying first in the Palestine Hotel but subsequently moving to the Al Hamra. For the first few days he had occupied himself in an environment where 'stories dropped from trees'. As the driver he had previously known was dead, he had been introduced to another one by a fellow journalist who was on the point of leaving; the new driver had in turn recommended as a translator Mr A, whom Mr Blair had engaged on Sunday 13 April.

48. The discovery of the documents had been by chance. On Saturday, 19 April 2003 he had decided to investigate whether there was anything to be gained from looking at the Foreign Ministry building. He gave two reasons for this: in the first place his paper had suggested that, as other journalists had been uncovering 'interesting documents' he should also look for some and, the Mukhabarat building having been 'pillaged to the point of destruction', the Foreign Ministry had seemed to be the obvious choice; secondly, he wished to satisfy his curiosity as to whether the building, which was located near the Al Rashid Hotel where he had previously stayed, was still standing. He had not expected to find anything, but he had a day free and it was 'worth a punt'. The idea of visiting the building had been entirely his own.

49. Mr Blair and his translator had found the gates to the building open and looters inside. They walked around the ground floor, which had been 'stripped bare' and found nothing but shreds of the trivia of bureaucracy. On the first floor, apart from more of the same, they found what 'had clearly once been the main archive of the Ministry' where fire seemed to have burned particularly fiercely. Although the metal frames of the file shelving had survived, the files themselves were just ash. Further down the corridor, behind a door which was scorched and blackened but not heavily damaged inside, but which had a large hole broken where the lock would have been, they had found a 'very, very small room' with box files stacked round three of the walls and a big heap of them in the middle of the floor. The files all bore paper labels which the translator had rendered as the names of countries.

50. I asked Mr Blair why he thought there might be an archive room separate from the main archive and how he thought the contents of it might have survived when other records had been destroyed by fire. To the first question he replied that he thought that the material he had found was clearly documents which had passed across the desks of Iraqi Foreign Ministers, not just of civil servants, and that these were kept apart from the more humdrum documents (an interpretation which was later also suggested by a former Head of Protocol in Iraq, see paragraph 83 below). As to the second, he thought that the door of the room had been closed, protecting the contents from the fire as it burned down the corridor. Looters, he assumed, had subsequently kicked down the door and pulled files off the walls but, finding nothing but paper, had also passed on.

51. Mr Blair's first thought had been to see if there were any documents which might shed light on the Iraqi view of the UK Prime Minister, so he and the translator had started looking for box-files labelled 'Britain'. Eventually, they found two labelled 'Britain' and one labelled 'Britain/France', one buried among the files on the floor and two on the shelves. Mr Blair said:

"What happened was, I remember the first file—it might have been the first, either the first or second that the translator passed to me—I actually opened it. I opened the box file because he was looking, so I had my hands free. So I opened it and had a look. And inside were the pale blue folders which you've probably seen."[160]

Mr Blair and the translator took possession of these three box-files and returned to the hotel, by this time the Al Hamra. On leaving the room, Mr Blair also took possession of three further items (two blue folders and one black lever-arch file) which, however, he says he never examined because, according to the labels, they were not of interest to him.

52. Back in the hotel, Mr Blair and the translator set about examining what they had found. For the first afternoon (Saturday, 19 April) they found nothing of interest. By his own account, Mr Blair 'came within an ace of giving up on the whole thing'. The next day he went on an abortive mission with his photographer, Mr Heathcliff O'Malley, to the prison at Abu Ghraib. On his return, having dropped off Mr O'Malley, he was driving near the Foreign Ministry and thought that it might be interesting to capitalise on being, as far as he knew, the only journalist to know about the room with the files in by trying to find out if there was anything interesting about France. He and his translator found a box labelled 'France', which they took back to the hotel.

53. On the Sunday afternoon, Mr Blair and his translator resumed their work and finished going through the first file. Near the top of the second one they found the letter allegedly from Tariq Aziz and purporting to enclose (though, as filed, it did not), 'George Galloway's work programme for the year 2000'.[161] It was at that point that Mr Blair first contacted his office in London, whereafter going through the files became a more directed and intense exercise. The following day (Monday) a second translator, Ms B, was hired. Mr O'Malley was directed to the hotel by the London office to photograph the documents and once the two translators had completed their work on the key documents, Mr Blair wrote up his story. Mr Blair's first story, with facsimiles of the relevant documents, was published on 22 April 2003.

54. Mr Blair told me that he had gone back to the Foreign Ministry building on the morning of Tuesday 22 April, to find it guarded. Later in the day, however, at the request of the BBC and others, he had returned to the Ministry with camera crews, to whom he showed the room where he had found the documents. Mr O'Malley, according to his own testimony in the libel proceedings, also took photographs of the site.

55. I asked Mr Blair if the documents had been under his control at all times following their discovery. He said that following his first discovery of them he had left them in his hotel room but had locked the door. He did not believe anyone had entered his room in his absence. After the discovery of the Tariq Aziz memorandum, he had kept that particular file with him at all times. On Thursday 24 April, five days after his first discovery of the files, Mr Blair had returned to England with the five folders relating to Britain, having left the material relating to France with a newly-arrived colleague.

56. Under examination in court during Mr Galloway's libel action against Telegraph Group Limited, Mr Blair maintained his version of the discovery of the documents:

"Q; Are you telling the truth when you say that you found these documents in the circumstances shown in [Mr O'Malley's photographs]?

A; Yes, I am.

Q; At the time that you prepared your reports for publication in the newspaper were you satisfied that those documents were genuine?

A; Yes, I satisfied myself that they were.

Q; How satisfied?

A; Completely satisfied."[162]

This evidence was given by Mr Blair on oath. If he gave it falsely, he thereby laid himself open to a possible prosecution for perjury.

57. Some corroboration of Mr Blair's account of the circumstances in which he found the documents was provided in written evidence given in the libel action by the photographer, Mr Heathcliff O'Malley,[163] who was with him on 20 April on the visit to Abu Ghraib and until the early afternoon of that day; who was sent by the picture desk at the Telegraph to photograph the documents in Mr Blair's hotel room on 21 April; and who photographed for Mr Blair the room in the Foreign Ministry where he claims to have found them. Mr O'Malley said that at some point on the journey to Abu Ghraib Mr Blair had told him that he had found in the Foreign Ministry some documents relating to Mr Galloway, which he was going to review before he reported them to his office. Mr Blair's account of the discovery of the documents was also supported in the written statement submitted in evidence during the libel proceedings by the Iraqi translator, Mr A.

(B) HOW THEY WERE FOUND: MR GALLOWAY'S ACCOUNT

58. Mr Galloway has consistently challenged Mr Blair's account of the finding of the documents. In court, in answer to the question 'You accept they were found in the burnt-out Ministry in Baghdad, do you not?' he replied 'As a matter of fact I do not.'[164] When interviewed by me on 24 February 2005, he told me, specifically, that he had evidence in respect of this in relation to the documents published by the Daily Telegraph on 23 April 2003, but that he would make this known in the House of Commons when the time was right .

59. On 8 May 2006, in the course of an adjournment debate on press regulation (and therefore under the protection of Parliamentary Privilege), Mr Galloway said that the claim:

"'that Mr Blair was not led to those documents but had merely chanced upon them when wandering around a looted and burning building, and that he had found all of the documents published by the Telegraph in the same place, at the same time and in the same box, is quite simply a lie." [165]

60. Mr Galloway told the House that he had been contacted on 18 July 2003 by a very senior British journalist, a foreign correspondent on a national daily paper. This contact had told Mr Galloway that on the weekend David Blair found the documents, he (Mr Blair) had been supposed to travel to the South of Iraq with Mr Galloway's contact, but had pulled out at the hotel door without explanation. On the day of the publication of the first documents (22 April), the contact had had a conversation with Mr Blair, in which Mr Blair had insisted that he had found the documents but had been anxious about their veracity and about the scale of treatment of the story by The Daily Telegraph and its assumption of Mr Galloway's guilt. On the day of the publication of the second set of documents, the contact and Mr Blair had spoken again, and this time

"Mr Blair confessed that the second set of documents published by the Telegraph (ie those published on 23 April)[166] had in fact been given to him and that he had not, as he claimed, found them. He said that he had been told by London to continue to insist that he had found those documents, and that my contact must never divulge the true story." [167]

61. Mr Galloway said further that his contact had been told by Mr Philip Sherwell of the Sunday Telegraph that 'he had himself trawled the same room in the same building and that everything was fire- or sprinkler-damaged beyond repair. On Sherwell's prior visit, the box Blair later claimed to have found was not there'.[168]

62. Following Mr Galloway's Adjournment debate, I wrote to him asking him if he would provide me with the name of his contact and also comment on certain other questions raised by his remarks in the House.[169] I wrote also to Mr Neil Darbyshire (the then Deputy Editor of the Daily Telegraph)[170] and to Mr Blair[171] asking for their comments on Mr Galloway's allegations, and to Mr Sherwell[172] asking if he could corroborate what Mr Galloway had said.

63. Mr Darbyshire replied on 31 May 2006[173] drawing my attention to a letter he had sent Mr Speaker on 19 May[174] setting out the Telegraph's strong objections to Mr Galloway's allegations and enclosing a copy of a letter the Telegraph's solicitors had sent Mr Galloway's solicitors.[175] The solicitors' letter described Mr Galloway's allegations as "entirely without foundation", saying that no mention had been made of them during the libel proceedings to which they "would have been of the greatest possible relevance"; that Mr Galloway had accepted the authenticity of the documents for the purposes of the libel action; and that the evidence of both Mr Blair and his translator, Mr A, on the point had not been effectively challenged during the proceedings.

64. Mr David Blair replied on 9 June 2006.[176] In his reply Mr Blair said that everything Mr Galloway had said about him in the House was untrue. He had not planned to travel to the South of Iraq with another journalist as Mr Galloway had claimed; both the documents published by the Telegraph on 22 and those published on 23 April had been found by him bound together in the same folder in the damaged former Iraqi Foreign Ministry building; none of the documents had been given to him by a third party; and he had had no conversations of the sort alleged by Mr Galloway with a senior foreign correspondent. He had nothing to add to or subtract from the evidence he had given during the libel action, which had been corroborated in a witness statement by his Iraqi translator (Mr A).

65. Mr Sherwell said in a letter of 29 June 2006[177] that his comments had been misrepresented during Mr Galloway's contribution to the Adjournment debate. He had visited the Foreign Ministry Building in Baghdad prior to Mr Blair but had never been aware whether he had visited the room in which Mr Blair said he had found the documents. Hence he could not comment on the state or contents of the room. Mr Sherwell added of the building:

"There were scores of rooms on several floors and we did not come close to trawling all of them. So when I heard that Mr Blair had found the documents in question, it did not surprise me at all and it never crossed my mind that my failure to find the same paperwork raised any questions about his subsequent discovery.

I certainly never asserted—as Mr Galloway stated in his speech, quoting his journalistic source—that I had searched the same room. Hence by definition nor could I have made any observation about the state of its contents or whether the box that Mr Blair found was there or not at the time I visited the building."

66. Mr Galloway repeatedly declined to provide me with the name of the senior foreign correspondent to whom he had referred as his source in the Adjournment debate, and also declined to reveal the nature of "future revelations" he proposed, he said, to make "when the time is right".[178] He also failed, in replying, to comment on the other questions arising from the debate which I had put to him in my letter of 23 May.[179] In his letter of 20 October 2006[180] Mr Galloway said that he had "no intention of returning to this matter again in the House of Commons" and explained the reason for his refusal to name his source as a desire to keep a promise of confidentiality and thereby to protect his source's safety and professional standing.

67. When I interviewed Mr Galloway on 30 November 2006, I invited him to offer further corroboration of his version of how Mr Blair had obtained some of the key documents. He largely repeated what he had said in the House and in correspondence,[181] but in one respect went further, asserting that if the second set of documents allegedly found by Mr Blair had in fact been given to him, it was likely that all the documents had.[182] Although he continued to decline to name his source, his account of his meeting with the senior journalist was confirmed by Mr Ron McKay, who had been present, he said, at that meeting and who also, in the capacity of 'friend', accompanied Mr Galloway at my interview.[183] Mr Galloway undertook to let me see the text of an e-mail he said he had sent his legal adviser, Mr Kevin Bays, immediately following his meeting with the journalist. I have appended the text of that e-mail.[184] Mr Bays has confirmed that the text I was given by Mr Galloway is in the same terms as an e-mail he had received on his computer on 18 July 2003 (the day on which Mr Galloway said that he met the journalist).[185]

68. Following my interview with Mr Galloway, I wrote again to Mr David Blair putting to him the various claims made in the e-mail.[186] Mr Blair replied on 15 February, pointing out that during his visit to the foreign ministry building in Baghdad, he had been accompanied by his Iraqi translator, who had subsequently provided a witness statement for the libel action brought by Mr Galloway. That statement had not been contested during the action. Mr Blair denied the other assertions made in Mr Galloway's e-mail, concluding:

"No third party gave me the files. I found them the way I have described both to you and the High Court."[187]

69. Mr Galloway's e-mail included the statement that his journalist contact "had been told by a senior source in MI5 that "the boys over the river"(MI6) had given the files to Blair".[188] I put this allegation to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. A senior official replied:

"The allegation relates to the activities of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). Information on SIS operations and activities is provided only to the Intelligence and Security Committee, the Intelligence Services Commissioner and the Interception of Communications Commissioner.

"If Mr Galloway wishes to pursue a formal complaint against SIS regarding this matter, he could do so via the Investigatory Powers Tribunal."[189]

(C) REAL, FAKED OR FALSE?

70. When considering the truth, or otherwise, of the documents published by the Telegraph, it is important to bear in mind the difference between authenticity and veracity. It would, for instance, be possible for a document to be written by the person who appeared to write it (that is, for it to be authentic) but for the contents to be completely untrue. There is also the possibility that genuine documents have been altered. In the following paragraphs I set out the evidence relevant to the question whether the documents uncovered by Mr Blair are likely to be authentic.

(i) Mr Galloway's View

71. Mr Galloway has never accepted that the documents are what they purport to be. The essence of his view is given in his letter to me of 17 January 2005:[190]

"The documents alleging financial wrongdoing on my part are fakes. They may have been forged, like the material supplied to the Christian Science Monitor by the Daily Telegraph writer Phillip Smucker, which led to an apology in the High Court and the payment of substantial damages by that newspaper to me. Or, like the documents bought by the Mail on Sunday, from the same source which supplied Mr Smucker and which were adjudged by Scotland Yard forensic experts to be forgeries, they have been doctored in a way to incriminate me in wrongdoing. Or they are the product of some corrupt scheme involving others and using my name. Whichever is the explanation, I am not yet able to say. The Telegraph documents are photocopies (unlike the Christian Science Monitor's) and thus, not subject to forensic examination. I am unable to travel to Baghdad to conduct an investigation there since the British and American invasion and occupation has turned the country into a conflagration. These documents are merely pieces of paper with my name written on them. There is no evidence that anything in them is true."

72. The tape of Mr Andrew Sparrow's conversation of 21 April 2003 with Mr Galloway (entered in evidence during the proceedings) gives Mr Galloway's early reaction to being told of the documents. He was reported as saying of the Intelligence Chief's memo:

"Well, you say it's come to light. Maybe it's the product of the same forgers who forged so many other things in this whole Iraq picture. Maybe the Daily Telegraph forged it. Who knows?"

73. Later in the same interview; Mr Galloway said:

"I mean, you've surprised me with this news, so I can't give you any other response than that, if such a memo exists, then it is a forgery, it is reporting or purporting to point to things which never happened."

74. He was also quoted as saying, when asked why someone might have gone to the bother of forging such a document:

"Well, it would not be the Iraqi regime who's forging it, my dear. It would be people like you, and the government whose policies you've supported."

75. The substance of this response was printed in the Daily Telegraph of 22 April 2003. On 23 April, Mr Galloway was quoted as saying that the story was 'secret service "black propaganda".' The article continued:

'He said he had not seen the documents referred to. But in a statement he said: "This attack is part of a smear campaign against those who stood against the illegal and bloody war on Iraq and its occupation by foreign forces".'

76. On page three of the same day, the paper reported 'he again suggested that the document could be a forgery. Asked who might be responsible, he replied "It would not be the Iraqi regime that was forging it. It would be people like you and the government whose policies you have supported".'

77. During the High Court hearing of his libel action, Mr Galloway distinguished between 'forgeries' and 'fakes'. Asked during cross-examination 'Would you accept that you went on publicly describing the Foreign Ministry documents as forgeries for many months after you had had full opportunity to think about it?' he replied "I think I used the word 'fake'." The exchange continued ;

'Q. You are not drawing a distinction between fake and forgeries?

A. I am, yes I am, and I tried to do that on the first day. I say that these documents are either forgeries or they have been doctored, but that they are in any case wrong and false'.[191]

He re-iterated this position at several other points in his oral evidence.

78. I interviewed Mr Galloway initially on 24 February 2005. At this meeting he suggested a third possibility, beyond forgery and doctoring, for the existence of the documents. He said;

"Either they are forged or they are doctored or they are the product of some conspiracy somewhere within the Iraqi regime to make money using my name. I can think of no other explanations. The one thing they are not is true."

I asked him if it was possible that they reflected genuine efforts by Mr Zureikat to assist him by using his name unbeknown to him. He rejected this suggestion because;

'they put me in a meeting [on Boxing Day 1999] in which I never sat'.

He went on;

"Zureikat … had no need to grub around in a conspiracy to use my name to get business for himself, and I do not believe that he did."[192]

79. During the same interview, Mr Galloway agreed that he had written the letter authorising Mr Zureikat to act as his representative in Baghdad in respect of the Mariam Appeal, a copy of which had been found by the Telegraph.[193] Another document allegedly found by the Telegraph in respect of which he offered a possible explanation was the one purporting to be signed by Tariq Aziz and referring to Mr Galloway's 'work programme'. He suggested that the 'work programme' might be the programme for the work brigades which were planned at one point by the Mariam Appeal to construct park and recreational facilities in Iraq for sick children, and also to give opportunities for members of the brigades to improve and politically educate themselves, plans which, in the event, came to nothing.[194]

80. Mr Galloway's evidence as to the authenticity of the documents was supported by Mr Fawaz Zureikat who in the Daily Telegraph of 23 April 2003 was quoted as saying that "the intelligence memo might be a forgery created by Mr Galloway's 'many enemies' in politics, or that business interests were trying to cash in on the MP's fame in Iraq".[195]

My attempts to verify his evidence with Mr Zureikat have been unsuccessful.

(ii) Evidence of Mr David Blair and Others

81. In my conversation with Mr Blair, he addressed unasked the question of whether the documents might be forgeries. He said that on the Sunday evening in Baghdad after he had found the documents:

". . . I began to think 'Could this possibly be a forgery? And the way I approached it was to say: suppose it was a forgery and someone had just planted this forgery. What would have had to have happened for that to have taken place? And the way I thought it through was: well, if this is a forgery, somebody came up with this very complicated document in Arabic. Photocopied it. Found a Foreign Ministry file filled with all sorts of other pieces of correspondence. Unbound it. Inserted it into that file. Bound it up again, using this quite distinctive single-bowed knot that all the pale blue folders I saw were tied in. Put it in a box file. Took it to the Foreign Ministry and then buried it there on the off-chance that someone might come along and might happen upon it and might go through it and might bother translating it. And that struck me immediately as just being wildly improbable. And then I thought: have we got other examples of the same letterhead? The same type of notepaper? So I looked through some of the other pale blue folders that we had and I came across some examples… Then I thought: have we got other examples of the same signature? So I looked back through the files and I found a couple… And it was then really that I became convinced that the probability of this thing being forged and planted was negligible. . ."[196].

Summing up what he thought, he said;

"'the bottom line would be that if you went about that extraordinary method of trying to forge a document, the overwhelming probability would be that your hard work would either be incinerated unread or would just lie there forever and no one would ever see it … it would have been a rather bizarre way of going about it."[197]

82. Mr Ibrahim Al Marashi, a research associate at the Centre for Non-Proliferation Studies at the University of California and a lecturer in Middle Eastern Studies at the US Naval Post-Graduate School, was quoted in the Daily Telegraph of 6 May 2003 as saying that the handling of the papers—passed between and signed by many different officials—was typical of the way the regime's paperwork was handled, as was the style of the documents themselves. On 4 September 2003 he confirmed to me by e-mail that he stood by what he had said in the Telegraph.

83. The former Head of Protocol in Iraq, Mr Haitham Rashid Wihaib, gave the Telegraph a short interview, which was published on 24 April 2003, in which he said that he was 100% convinced from the handwriting that the Intelligence Chief's memorandum was genuine. He also said that it was very unlikely that the documents could have been forged and planted as part of a smear campaign against Mr Galloway, saying;

"I do not believe that anybody in Iraq would play around with Mr Galloway's name or Mr Galloway's money".[198]

(iii) Other documents in the files

84. Among the copy documents bound in the folders were some whose likely authenticity has been confirmed by their apparent authors. One was the (undated) letter from Mr Galloway asking that Fawaz Zureikat be treated as his sole representative in Baghdad on all matters relating to the Mariam Appeal and the Emergency Committee in Iraq, which letter Mr Galloway has accepted as genuine (see paragraph 79 above). Others were copies of letters, apparently written in the early months of 2000, by the former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath, Lord Waverley and Canon Edward White, to the Iraqi Interests Section in London. In response to my inquiries, all three gentlemen or their representatives agreed that there was no reason to doubt the authenticity of these letters. The translation into Arabic of a Hansard report of a speech by Mr Galloway found in the files has also been found to be authentic.[199] The files contained an original copy of the Hansard report of the speech, to which was stapled an original printed House of Commons visiting card in the name of Mr Galloway, with the designation "Senior Vice Chairman, Parliamentary Labour Party, Foreign Affairs Comittee".

85. The folders also contained an original letter on the headed notepaper of the Great Britain-Iraq Society, dated 21 December 2000 and signed by Mr Galloway.[200] The letter announced the Society's intention to set up a body to promote trade between Great Britain and Iraq and sought agreement to a meeting the following month in Baghdad "to discuss the best way to go forward".

86. During my first interview with Mr Galloway on 24 February 2005, prior to the forensic analysis I later had done on the Telegraph documents, my colleague the Registrar of Members' Interests, Ms Barry, had asked whether, as reported in the press, Mr Galloway had written such a letter. Mr Galloway had replied:

"I do not think so. As a matter of course I would not have been writing letters to the Iraqi regime, so I doubt that."[201]

87. I put the discrepancy between the answer and the available evidence to Mr Galloway in my letter of 13 December 2006.[202] In his letter of 5 March 2007,[203] Mr Galloway accepted that he had written the letter in question:

"I did write the letter enclosed to the then Iraqi Foreign Minister for reasons which are self-explanatory. I stand by its contents. I held a press conference in the al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad following the meeting referred to which was attended by, amongst others, Mr Anton La Guardia, then of the Daily Telegraph, at which I explained this project. I believe he published in the Telegraph a report of this press conference."

(iv) Further evidence relating to Mr Galloway's alleged 'programme of work'

88. Among the folders of material allegedly found by Mr David Blair was one other letter which, like the Tariq Aziz memorandum, refers to Mr Galloway's 'programme', but on this occasion to his 'working programme for the year 2000 in Britain'. This letter is in original form with an original signature (not a photocopy) and is dated 22 January 2000 (that is, two weeks prior to the 'Tariq Aziz memo' of 5 February 2000, which was published in the Daily Telegraph on 22 April 2003). It is from the then Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammed Said Al-Sahhaf to the Presidential Chancellery.

89. The letter (a translation of which is appended[204]) refers to a number of meetings which the then Charge d'Affaires of the Iraqi Interests Section at the Royal Jordanian Embassy, Mr Mudhafar Al-Amin, had held with Mr Galloway and Dr Burhan Al-Chalabi "to study the working programme for the year 2000 in Britain and to begin implementing some of the paragraphs of the programme". The letter continues:

"We enclose with this letter a translation of the letter sent by Mr George Galloway to the Charge d'Affaires of the Interests Section describing therein the basic features of the working programme he aspires to implement in the future.

"The Ministry supports the paragraphs contained in the programme of Mr Galloway.

"Please peruse. With appreciation."

90. No copy either of the original or of a translation of the alleged letter sent by Mr Galloway to Mr Al-Amin referred to in this document has been found in the folders allegedly discovered by Mr Blair. However the letter has been examined as part of the process of forensic analysis which I describe later.[205] It is noteworthy that this letter, like the 'Tariq Aziz memo' carries a reference to Presidential letter No. 3562 (though the text of that Presidential letter is also not available).

91. When Mr Al Sahhaf's letter came to my notice as a result of the forensic analysis I had commissioned of the documents, I wrote to Dr Al-Chalabi asking him if he had been involved, with Mr Galloway, in meetings with Mr Al-Amin, as the letter alleged.[206] Dr Al-Chalabi replied on 9 January 2007, as follows:

"I have no knowledge of the "number of meetings" to which the letter of the Iraqi Minister of Foreign affairs seems to refer.

"I recall having a few meetings with Mr Amin to secure the Iraqi Government approval for the mercy flight, always alone. However, it is possible that on one or possibly two occasions Mr George Galloway may have been present by coincidence.

"I have no knowledge of the "working programme" to which the letter seems to refer."[207]

92. I wrote again to Dr Al-Chalabi on 10 January, asking him to tell me if the funding of the proposed mercy flight had been discussed with Mr Al-Amin.[208] After a reminder, Dr Al-Chalabi replied to me through his legal representative, Mr Sabah Al-Mukhtar, declining to add anything to what he had already said.[209]

93. I subsequently wrote to Mr Galloway seeking his comments on the Al-Sahhaf letter.[210] Mr Galloway replied on 27 April.[211] In his letter Mr Galloway said that:

a)  to the best of his knowledge the only meetings he ever had with Dr Al-Chalabi and Mr Al-Amin were connected to the proposed flight from London to Baghdad which he and Dr Al-Chalabi were jointly organizing. The flight was scheduled for February/March 2000.

b)  he had no joint working programme with Dr Al-Chalabi other than this proposed flight.

94. Mr Galloway went on to make an important distinction between a 'work programme' and a 'working programme':

"A work programme details a body of tasks to which one may be contractually held as, say, an employee is to the duties agreed with their employer. A working programme is purely a description of the work a campaign or other independent political organization might draw up, add to, take away from, and highlight publicly. As you know this dichotomy is at the heart of this whole affair.

Mr Galloway confirmed that he had regularly met Mr Al-Amin (and his predecessor), and at those meetings had:

"reviewed the political situation concerning war and sanctions on Iraq, repeated my oft stated opinions which I hoped would be conveyed to Baghdad, and spoke to whoever was the diplomat in place about the varied campaigns and initiatives to end sanctions."

He continued:

"The diplomat in question might of course have described this as my 'working programme' (though we have no copies of any such communication). What is certainly the case is that I adumbrated the priorities of my campaigns in speech, in print, in letters and in articles on countless occasions: no one could be in any doubt as to what my 'working programme' was."

95. The explanation Mr Galloway makes in this letter provides, I believe, a more convincing account of to what the various references in the Telegraph documents of a 'working' or 'work' programme refer than that offered by him in our interview on 24 February 2005.[212] At that point Mr Galloway suggested that the 'work programme' referred to in the Tariq Aziz memo might be the programme for the work brigades planned at one point by the Mariam Appeal. However the Appeal did not announce that aspect of its planned activities until July 2000, when it was said that the work camp programme would begin in May 2001 and end in October of the same year. Both the Tariq Aziz memo and the Al-Sahhaf letter pre-date this announcement by several months. Mr Al-Sahhaf's letter refers to "the working programme for the year 2000 in Britain" (emphasis added). Moreover, two other documents found in the Telegraph folders indicate that neither the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs nor the Iraqi Interests Section in London knew of the work camp programme prior to its announcement.[213]

96. I conclude that Mr Galloway is probably correct in the suggestion in his letter of 27 April 2007 that the 'working programme' mentioned in the letter from Mr Al-Sahhaf is best understood to be a description of the campaigning work on Iraq and sanctions Mr Galloway planned to undertake in Britain in 2000. I also believe that this is the likely explanation of the nature of the 'work programme' referred to in the Tariq Aziz memo. I am advised by a skilled translator who has studied the documents that the Arabic wording on this point in the two documents is the same: in the case of the Tariq Aziz memo, the Arabic has been translated into English as 'work programme', in the case of the Al-Sahhaf letter as 'working programme'. Both letters, however, refer, I am advised, to the same thing. I discuss in my conclusions whether this 'programme' is best understood as, in Mr Galloway's terms, a detailed body of tasks to which one might be contractually held or, rather, a description of the work a campaign or other independent political organization might draw up, and the implications of this for the allegations made in 2003 about Mr Galloway.

97. One loose end remained on this point after Mr Galloway's letter of 27 April: he had not clearly indicated whether he had ever sent Mr Al-Amin a letter describing the 'working programme' he aspired to implement in Britain in 2000. I accordingly put that question to him.[214] Mr Galloway replied on 8 May, saying:

"I have no more knowledge of what is in the enclosure to the Sahhaf letter (if that is what it is) than you do, since neither of us have seen it.

"I regularly communicated with the Iraqi Charge d'Affairs from 1991 until 2003, whomsoever was in that post. I met them; I spoke to them by phone; I copied them into bulletins and campaign material etc. Where I required to, for example the flight to Baghdad which needed Iraqi government clearance or the proposed "Work Brigades" which needed the agreement of several Iraqi ministries, both Mr Halford and I wrote to them."[215]

(v) Evidence of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry

98. I wrote to the current Iraqi Government sending them copies of the key documents and asking whether they could confirm their authenticity.[216] In response their representative said:

"We can clarify that the documents to which you referred in paragraphs A, B, C and D of the above-mentioned letter, are original and genuine letters, and for our part we, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs endorse their authenticity."[217]

During my interview of Mr Galloway on 30 November 2006, he rejected the evidential value of this endorsement on the basis that the current Iraqi Government consisted of people who were his "mortal enemies".[218]

(vi) Evidence from Visual Examination of the Documents

99. The Registrar of Members' Interests and I visited the offices of the Daily Telegraph on 26 June 2003, to look at the documents in the condition in which they were said to have been found. The timing of our visit was influenced by the wish of Mr Galloway's legal team to have copies made of the documents, which would involve disturbing the files and their contents.

100. The documents we saw were contained in pale blue folders enclosed in cardboard box-files lined with a wallpaper-like paper with a tiger-skin pattern. The boxes had grimy covers marked with what appeared to be finger-marks, and smelled faintly of what might be soot or smoke. The covers bore the marks of someone 'doodling', in that the bolts seemed to have been outlined in red ink or biro.

101. The documents, some of which were originals whilst others were photocopies or faxes, were all bound together with a distinctive knot, which did not appear to have been recently undone. They appeared to be bound in date order in the Arabic rather than the Western order, with an index at the front (Western back). A number were annotated in ink, and some bore 'post-it' notes, both in Arabic.

102. The index covered leading documents but not necessarily attachments. Some of the documents on fax paper had begun to deteriorate and some attachments had begun to tear away from the binding through handling. All of the key documents which had apparently originated in Iraq were photocopies of hand-written originals. Some of these documents had on them annotations in ink. Some of the documents in the folders appeared to have been photocopied onto the backs of other documents.

103. It was apparent to the Registrar and me from our examination that if the documents had been forged or faked (for example, in an attempt to discredit Mr Galloway) the exercise of faking them would have been a very elaborate one indeed. The folder containing the key documents alone contained a wide variety of original and copy material amounting to some 200 documents in all. The annotations in ink and various post-it notes in Arabic would have had to be added. The index would have had to be created. It would have required a good deal of time and resource to create the material; and it, and the other folders said to have been found with it, would then have had to be placed among official records. Arguably also, if the object was to pass off forged documents as genuine, it would not have been necessary to go to such elaborate lengths to achieve this outcome.

(vii) Evidence from Forensic Examination of the Documents

104. In the course of my inquiries it became evident to me that both Mr Galloway's legal team and the Daily Telegraph had consulted forensic experts about the key documents. Both Mr Galloway and the Daily Telegraph agreed that I might see the reports presented to them by their respective experts. I subsequently met the expert (Mr Oliver Thorne of LGC Forensics) instructed indirectly on behalf of Mr Galloway and I have corresponded with the expert instructed on behalf of the Telegraph (Dr Audrey Giles of the Giles Document Laboratory).

105. In neither case did the instructed expert carry out at that stage a complete forensic examination of the documents. This was essentially because, as the libel proceedings unfolded, the authenticity of the documents was not at issue between the parties.[219] Mr Thorne's preliminary inspection report, which was limited to a purely visual inspection, concluded that it would be possible to submit the documents to a number of forensic procedures which might help establish their authenticity. Mr Thorne was not, however, asked by those instructing him to undertake any such detailed examination.

106. Dr Giles undertook more extensive tests on the documents at her client's request, although these too did not result in a final, comprehensive report. Nonetheless the tests included the study of impressions and other distinguishing marks (such as photocopier trash marks[220]) found on the documents. Dr Giles found by these means a number of links between the key documents: for example, the copy memorandum from General Hamid Al-Khattab dated 2 May 2000 had clearly been attached to the bundle of documents including the Intelligence Chief's memorandum. Her first draft report continued:

"It is positively linked to these documents by means of common photocopier trash marks and impressions. The copy al-Khattab Memorandum[221] is positively linked to the Izzat Ibrahim Memorandum, not only by physical attachment, but also via impressions of handwritings from one document to another.

The al-Khattab Memoranda are similar to each other, to other documents in these files and, in each case, bear original ink entries which are consistent with those appearing on other documents throughout File 1. In addition copy documents attached to the Izzat Ibrahim Memorandum are positively associated with other documents on the File having been copied on the same photocopier whilst it was in the same condition."[222]

107. Dr Giles noted in her report—as Mr Thorne did in his—that the fact that the key documents were all copy documents limited the conclusions that could be drawn from any forensic examination of them. Mr Galloway has asserted that the fact that the key documents are photocopies means that they are not therefore capable of being subject to any forensic analysis.[223] However, this is to claim more than either forensic expert I consulted indicated would be justified. It was clear from my contacts with both Mr Thorne and Dr Giles that the key Telegraph documents were capable of some forensic analysis. On the basis of the tests she conducted, Dr Giles concluded in her first draft report:

". . .the physical association between the [key] documents and other documents within the files amounts to strong positive evidence that the [key] documents have been handled within the Foreign Ministry in a manner similar to other documents stored on the files and which I have assumed are genuine."

108. Mr Galloway, to whom I showed Dr Giles's report, rejected it as any kind of forensic examination.[224] Against this background of dispute about the authenticity of the documents and the feasibility of them being forensically examined, I decided to commission my own forensic analysis of the Telegraph documents. Having obtained the agreement of Telegraph Group Limited to my securing the documents for this purpose, I asked Mr Oliver Thorne of LGC Forensics to undertake an analysis, looking not only at the key Telegraph documents but at all those allegedly discovered and brought back to England by Mr David Blair. After contacting those who were connected with the preliminary inspection instruction (where possible) and taking legal advice to ensure that there would be no conflict of interest in LGC Forensics doing so, Mr Thorne accepted my commission. He was assisted in his work by a skilled Arabic translator.[225] He was not made privy to the results of Dr Giles's interim examination of the documents until after he had completed his own investigation.

109. Mr Thorne's report, which describes in detail the indications he examined in respect of the documents, can be found at Volume II, PCS Written Evidence 32. Overall he estimated the number of documents in all the files he received as being in excess of 2,500. I asked him to give his professional opinion as to whether the key Telegraph documents were authentic and, bearing in mind Mr Galloway's assertion that the "second set" of documents had been obtained separately by Mr Blair, whether the documents gave signs of having been found in more than one group or of having been found together.

110. Mr Thorne set himself to consider the following possibilities:

a)  the vast majority of all the documents in all the files were produced in a contemporaneous manner and were authentic;

b)  all the submitted documents were created contemporaneously but were not authentic;

c)  all the documents were forgeries created at a later date.

If (b) or (c) proved to be the case, the Telegraph documents (as Mr Thorne called the key documents at the heart of the allegations concerning Mr Galloway) would not be authentic. In the event, he concluded that there was a high probability that (a) was the case (see paragraph 26 of Mr Thorne's report).

111. Given this finding, Mr Thorne also considered the possibilities that:

a)  while the vast majority of the submitted documents were authentic, one or more of the Telegraph documents were forgeries inserted amongst otherwise authentic documents or were authentic documents which had been altered; and

b)  each of the Telegraph documents was authentic.

Mr Thorne was, of course, only able to comment on the authenticity, not on the veracity of the Telegraph documents.

112. Concluding his report, Mr Thorne gave his opinion on the authenticity of the documents as a whole as follows:

"In my opinion the evidence found fully supports that the vast majority of the submitted documents are authentic. In my opinion the submitted documents are not all forgeries created at a later time. Whilst I cannot totally exclude the theoretical possibility that all the submitted documents were created during the time that they state but by a non-authentic source such as a 'shadow office', I consider that this is extremely unlikely."

113. As to the authenticity of the key documents at the heart of the complaint against Mr Galloway, Mr Thorne said:

"Given that the vast majority of the submitted documents are authentic then, in my opinion, there is a high probability that all the disputed Telegraph documents are also authentic. I find no evidence that any are forgeries or altered and I consider this possibility to be extremely unlikely."

Further, he found no evidence to suggest that any of the disputed Telegraph documents were found at a different time/place to the others.

114. I sent Mr Thorne's report to Mr Galloway on 23 January 2007. Mr Galloway gave an initial response on 31 January.[226]

"To say that I am surprised by your "forensic" report is a gross understatement. As you know I have always maintained that whether or not these documents are 'authentic' they are false. Therefore your commissioning of the report is an expensive irrelevance."

115. Mr Galloway went on to claim that he had never been given the opportunity to see the documents or to engage his own forensic scientists to examine them. He asserted that I had commissioned the same laboratory which had originally examined them for the Telegraph. He continued that the documents were all photocopies and, focusing on one aspect of Mr Thorne's report, argued that "anyone who knows anything about Iraqi politics… its intrigues and corruptions, would surely conclude that it was highly likely that a 'ghost office' had produced the documents".

116. I replied to Mr Galloway on 14 February 2007.[227] I pointed out that:

  • Mr Galloway's legal team in the libel action had seen the documents
  • Through intermediaries, they had commissioned a preliminary inspection report on the forensic techniques that would be available to examine them
  • Mr Thorne had been the person commissioned to produce that report. He had not been commissioned by the Telegraph.

117. Mr Galloway's reference to the possibility of a 'ghost office' having produced the documents appears to betray a misunderstanding of one aspect of Mr Thorne's report. As I understand it, the proposition considered by Mr Thorne is that a shadow office operating in Arabic over the period of time covered by the documents would have to have been set up. The task before it would have been not just to create the disputed documents about Mr Galloway but all of the more than 2,500 documents allegedly found by Mr David Blair. As Mr Thorne puts the matter in paragraph 25 of his report:

"Not only would a 'shadow office' operating in Arabic have to be set up operating over the period of time covered by the documents (approx. 1998 to 2001) and producing at least 2500 documents of wide ranging appearance but it would also have to obtain the reference documents and other verifiable documents to the files without arousing any suspicion. Whilst this possibility remains theoretically present I consider it to be extremely unlikely."

118. There is also the question of the motivation for setting up such an elaborate and expensive operation. One possibility would be for it to have been done by one of Mr Galloway's political opponents in the West. In his letter of 31 January, however, Mr Galloway does not suggest this: rather he suggests that the 'ghost office', if it existed, would have been set up and operated by someone within the then Iraqi regime. What the motivation might be for such behaviour he does not explain. Nevertheless, whatever the motivation might have been for setting up a 'ghost office' and whoever might have done it, we must set Mr Galloway's view about this possibility alongside Mr Thorne's view that it is "extremely unlikely", for the reasons set out above.

119. Mr Galloway summed up his view of the Telegraph documents in his letter to me of 5 March 2007:[228]

"… I refute the alleged provenance of these documents …

"Whatever [their] provenance … the contents of them are false. I am not in a position to know who wrote them or when or why. They may all or in part be forgeries; they may all or in part reflect some corruption within the former Iraqi regime—corruption widely acknowledged; they may all or in part reflect the use of my name without my knowledge or benefit by other people. In any case the claims made in them are entirely untrue."

Later, in his letter of 11 May 2007 commenting on the factual sections of this report, he wrote:

"Your account of my position on these documents also blatantly misrepresents it. Once more it is that even if these documents are authentic, then the substance of them is false. I have never received a penny, directly or indirectly, from the former Iraqi regime…"[229]

2.  The Mariam Appeal

120. Having set out the evidence relating to the discovery and authenticity of the documents about Mr Galloway published in 2003 by the Daily Telegraph, I turn to the evidence I have gathered about the Mariam Appeal. I refer briefly to the inquiry into the Appeal conducted by the Charity Commission before describing, on the basis of evidence from Mr Galloway and others associated with the Appeal, how it began, what it did, how it operated and how it was funded.

(A) THE CHARITY COMMISSION INQUIRY

121. Following publication of the Daily Telegraph's documents the Charity Commission received a complaint alleging that the funds of the Mariam Appeal—which was not a registered charity and, as I explain later, was never perceived by its organisers to be one—had been used for non-charitable purposes. Between June 2003 and June 2004 it conducted an inquiry under Section 8 of the Charities Act 1993 to examine how the funds raised by the Appeal had been spent.

122. The Commission concluded that the objects of the Appeal were charitable and that, given the level of income raised in the name of the Appeal, it should have been registered with the Commission and placed on the Register of Charities. The Appeal's constitution placed control and management of the administration of the Appeal in the hands of the Members of the Appeal's Executive Committee who, in accordance with the provisions of the Act were, in the finding of the Commission, the trustees of the Charity.

123. A copy of the Commission's full report, issued on 28 June 2004, is appended to this report.[230] In brief the main conclusions of the report were:

a)  Those who founded the Appeal were unaware that they had created a charity, having received legal advice to the effect that it was not one;

b)  The major funders of the Appeal, apart from public donations, were the United Arab Emirates, a donor from Saudi Arabia and Mr Fawaz Zureikat;

c)  Mr Galloway (who had been the Appeal's first Chairman) had told the Commission that the books and records of the Appeal had been sent to Amman and Baghdad in 2001 when Mr Zureikat became the Appeal's Chairman.

d)  Mr Galloway had assured the Commission that monies received by him from the Appeal related to expenses incurred by him as its Chairman.

e)  Dr Amineh Abu-Zayyad (Mr Galloway's former wife and the Appeal's medical and scientific officer) and Mr Stuart Halford (the Appeal's Director of Operations), who in the eyes of the Commission were both trustees of the charity, had received unauthorised benefits in the form of salary payments from the Appeal's Funds (ie benefits that, as trustees, they should not have received). However, those concerned had not acted in bad faith and the services they had provided had been of value to the Appeal.

f)  Some of the activities of the Appeal were political in nature. However these activities were ancillary to the purposes of the Appeal and the trustees could reasonably have formed the view that they would enable treatment for sick children in line with the Appeal's objectives.

124. The report concluded:

"Given that the political activities of the Appeal were capable of being viewed as ancillary to the purposes of the Appeal and in light of the fact that the Appeal was closed and in view of the difficulties in obtaining the books and records of the Appeal, the Commission decided that it would not be proportionate to pursue its inquiries further."

"The Commission advised the trustees that they had a duty to keep accounting records under trust law and as a charity should have kept and produced accounts in accordance with the provisions of the Act. However given that the founders of the Appeal were unaware that they had created a charity and because the Commission has found no evidence that the funds of the Appeal were misapplied (other than the payment of unauthorised benefits to trustees), the Commission will be taking no further action on this matter."

125. I have had access as part of my own investigation to the documents examined by the Commission.[231] In the following paragraphs, I set out my understanding—derived from this material and from the evidence of Mr Galloway and others involved in the Appeal—as to how the Appeal came into being, what it did, how it ran and who funded it.[232]

(B) THE ORIGIN AND PURPOSE OF THE MARIAM APPEAL

126. Mr Galloway established the Appeal in 1998.[233] It emerged from an earlier group organised by Mr Galloway, the Emergency Committee on Iraq. The Emergency Committee opposed non-military sanctions against Iraq and any military action against its people. It organised demonstrations and public meetings to promote its views. It was an overtly political organisation.

127. The Mariam Appeal was also seen by those who founded it as primarily a campaigning organisation. It took its name from Mariam Hamza, an Iraqi child suffering from leukemia, who became, through Mr Galloway's 'adoption' of her via the campaign, symbolic of those who, in the eyes of its supporters, were suffering from the effects of UN sanctions against Iraq. The Appeal aimed both to raise funds for Mariam Hamza's treatment and to highlight the effects of UN sanctions on the Iraqi people.

128. Mr Sabah Al-Mukhtar, a prominent Iraqi lawyer in London and an active participant in the early stages of the Mariam Appeal, whom I interviewed on 1 March 2006,[234] told me that following an informal meeting in a Committee Room in the House, he had drafted a constitution for the Appeal which he had sent to Mr Galloway or his then assistant, Mr Stuart Halford. The preamble to what emerged as the constitution of the Appeal—signed by Mr Galloway as Chairman of the Appeal and by Mr Halford as its Vice-Chairman—said that:

"The Mariam Appeal has been established to help alleviate the suffering of Iraqi children afflicted by cancer in the Republic of Iraq as a result of the programme of sanctions imposed by the United Nations and the use of weapons containing depleted uranium during and since the 1991 Gulf War, which the Appeal believes is the likely cause of the abnormal increase in cancer and deformities amongst children."

129. The constitution went on to describe the Appeal's objectives and activities as follows:

"A. Objectives

1. To provide medicines, medical equipment and medical assistance to the people of Iraq.

2. To highlight the causes and results of the cancer epidemic in Iraq.

3. To arrange for the medical treatment of a number of Iraqi children outside Iraq.

B. Activities

1. To purchase, procure and distribute within Iraq, medicines and medical equipment.

2. To increase awareness of the plight of the Iraqi children.

3. To raise funds exclusively to achieve the above objectives."[235]

130. The political objectives of the Appeal were evident from the outset in the publicity material surrounding it. For example, a mailing to supporters of the Appeal circulated by Mr Galloway on House of Commons notepaper on 8 May 1998 included a postcard opposing sanctions which recipients were invited to send the Prime Minister. The welcome page of the Appeal's web-site set up in 1999 stated:

"The Mariam Appeal is a campaign founded and organised by George Galloway MP.

Our principal objective is to campaign against sanctions on Iraq which are having disastrous effects on the ordinary people of Iraq."

During my interview with Mr Galloway on 30 November 2006, Mr Ron McKay (who accompanied Mr Galloway to the interview as his friend) said of the Appeal that, in the eyes of its founders:

"… it was explicitly, overwhelmingly and exclusively a political campaign."[236]

(C) THE ACTIVITIES OF THE APPEAL

131. The Appeal's activities reflected its dual purpose (support for Mariam Hamza: campaigning against UN sanctions and any further military operations against Iraq). The Appeal arranged treatment for Mariam in the UK, Jordan and the USA and assisted with her continuing care in Iraq. The bulk of the Appeal's energies were focused, however, on its campaigning work. Among highlights of this work were:

a)  The Big Ben to Baghdad bus trip—which involved driving a London bus from London to Baghdad, to draw attention to the effects of sanctions and transport some medical supplies to the Iraqi capital. This journey—which took place during the autumn of 1999, ending in Baghdad on 7 November—attracted a great deal of publicity in the UK and especially in the Middle East.

b)  A 'Day and Night for the People of Iraq' event held in Kensington Town Hall on 6 May 2000, involving workshops, video screenings and speeches by Mr Galloway, the Rt Hon Tony Benn, and others.

c)  A European meeting of the Baghdad Conference of anti sanctions organisations, hosted by the Appeal in Brussels in October 2000.

d)  The Big Ben to Baghdad Flight—a 'sanctions-busting flight' to transport medicines from London to Baghdad via Bulgaria in November 2000.

132. The preponderant emphasis of the Appeal on campaigning activity was reflected in the balance of its expenditure. The Appeal never produced audited accounts and accurate, comprehensive financial information about it is not available (for reasons I describe below). However, the Charity Commission has established total payments from the bank accounts of the Appeal of £1,441,394.37. The Appeal made the following payments to medical facilities in the UK and Jordan which were almost certainly connected to the medical expenses of Mariam Hamza:

Yorkhill NHS Trust— £54,661.20

Awal Medical Centre—£5,665.10

Christ's Hospital— £3,453.00

Total— £63,779.30

133. In addition, the Appeal met other costs of Mariam's treatment in Baghdad and in the USA, and made regular payments to Mariam's family of US$100 per month following her return home after her initial treatment. Other costs were incurred, principally in relation to Dr Abu-Zayyad, who assisted Mariam and her family in relation to her care and treatment. Nonetheless it is clear that the great bulk of the Appeal's expenditure went on other activities, including its campaigning activities. This was consistent, in my view, with the campaigning objectives of the organisers of the Appeal.

(D) THE ORGANISATION AND DIRECTION OF THE APPEAL

134. As previously noted, the constitution of the Mariam Appeal placed responsibility for the conduct of the Appeal's affairs in the hands of its Executive Committee. The Committee was to consist of no more than 9 members and to choose from its number 5 officers, to include a chairman, vice-chairman, secretary, treasurer and liaison officer. Minutes of a meeting of the Appeal on 15 April 1999[237] record the election of the following as officers:

Chairman—Mr George Galloway

Vice Chairman—Mr Stuart Halford

Liaison Officer—Mr Andrew Murray

Secretary—Dr Amineh Abu-Zayyad[238]

Treasurer—Mr Sabah Al-Mukhtar

135. Evidence provided by Mr Sabah Al-Mukhtar and Mr Stuart Halford suggests that in practice the organisation of the Appeal was far more informal and fluid than the terms of the constitution and these minutes would suggest. Mr Al-Mukhtar indicated that while he had been aware of the proposal that he should be the Appeal's Treasurer and that, together with Dr Abu-Zayyad and Mr Halford, he should open, in April 1999, an account for the Appeal at the National Bank of Abu Dhabi of which all three would be signatories, he could not recall whether he had in fact been present at meetings on 14 and 15 April 1999, as recorded in the minutes of those meetings, at which decisions to this effect were alleged to have been taken.[239] If a meeting had taken place, it would have been a very informal one, not the formal type suggested by the minutes. Although nominally the Appeal's Treasurer, Mr Al-Mukhtar's formal involvement with the Appeal's finances had in fact been minimal.[240] The necessity to secure a bank mandate to access the Appeal's funds deposited at the National Bank of Abu Dhabi probably explained the need for the minutes of the meetings.

136. In a meeting on 6 October 2005 (the agreed note of which is to found in Oral Evidence vol III), Mr Halford (who served as the Appeal's Director of Operations and nominally as its Vice-Chairman—see below) gave a similar picture of the Appeal's mode of operation. It was essentially a campaigning body, "a loose organisation with little structure. Meetings were held and he then received instructions about what to do". Mr Halford told me that he basically organised the Appeal's various campaigns or initiatives under Mr Galloway's direction.[241]

137. Mr Galloway was chairman of the Appeal from its inception in 1998 to the end of 1999 or early 2000. Mr Galloway had then informed Mr Halford that he (Mr Halford) was chairman but after a few weeks had said that Mr Fawaz Zureikat was chairman. Mr Halford had not known the circumstances surrounding those decisions but had simply accepted them. Mr Halford added:

"Throughout, whatever his nominal role, Mr Galloway had clearly been in charge of the Appeal."[242]

138. In evidence to the Charity Commission on behalf of Mr Galloway (letter of 13 April 2004—not appended), his solicitors, Davenport Lyons said:

"We would ask you to bear in mind that our client was the founder of the Mariam Appeal and briefly (emphasis added) its Chairman. Our client did not have day to day conduct of the Appeal or its finances. . ."

However, whilst it is true that Mr Galloway did not run the Appeal on a day-to-day basis, the evidence of both Mr Al-Mukhtar, its sometime Treasurer, and Mr Halford, its Director of Operations, is that Mr Galloway was effectively the one who directed the activities of the Appeal throughout its life. Mr Al-Mukhtar told me that the campaign had been run by Mr Galloway with Mr Halford and Dr Abu Zayyad assisting. Later he agreed with my summary of the picture he had presented to the effect that Mr Galloway had been the driving force of the Appeal, assisted in the day-to-day work by Mr Halford.[243]

139. Mr Halford said that Mr Galloway was:

"the figurehead, founder and chairman. Mr Galloway was in control and would give instructions. Nothing happened without his say so." [244]

According to Mr Halford, this situation continued after Mr Zureikat had become the Appeal's Chairman. Decisions were regularly taken at meetings between Mr Galloway and Mr Zureikat, at which Mr Halford was not present. He was told what was decided at those meetings and his job was to make it happen.

"Mr Galloway was still the boss. Mr Halford had never taken direct instruction from Mr Zureikat regarding the Appeal."[245]

140. Mr Galloway himself agreed in my interview with him on 30 November 2006 that he had been responsible throughout for the overall direction of the Appeal. Mr Galloway said in relation to this:

"Neither Mr Al-Mukhtar, Mr Halford nor anybody else are responsible for any of these big questions that we are discussing now. … In terms of policy decisions of import, all of these were mine; I take full responsibility for them. I have no intention of hiding behind anyone else in this regard."[246]

141. Mr Halford also said that Mr Galloway decided on all significant aspects of the Appeal's expenditure.[247] By contrast, in his interview with Mr Andrew Sparrow on 21 April 2003 (submitted in evidence in the libel proceedings), Mr Galloway is reported to have said;

"I've never been responsible for the expenditure of any money [by the Appeal]."[248]

Whilst Mr Galloway was not himself a signatory on any of the Appeal's accounts and in that sense was not responsible for the Appeal's expenditure, it appears from the evidence of Mr Halford (supported by the description of Mr Galloway's central role in the direction of the Appeal given by Mr Al-Mukhtar, and acknowledged by Mr Galloway himself) that through his role in the Appeal's direction, Mr Galloway had a critical say in how in overall terms its funds were expended.

(E) THE FUNDING OF THE MARIAM APPEAL

142. From where did the Appeal obtain its funds? Analysis by the Charity Commission of the Appeal's bank accounts has identified total income to the Appeal of £1,467,661.46.[249] The three major donors to the Appeal were:

The Government of Abu-Dhabi—£508,735.25

Mr Fawaz Zureikat (also recorded as Mr Fawaz Abdullah)—£448,248.29

The Crown Prince (now the King) of Saudi Arabia.

Mr Halford confirmed that the donation from Saudi Arabia—for which no precise figure is available—had been the first sizeable one received by the Appeal. It had largely paid for Mariam Hamza's initial hospital bills.[250] The Appeal had received its largest donation from the Government of Abu Dhabi, following lobbying by Mr Galloway, in the spring of 1999. This had enabled the campaigning work of the Appeal to move onto a new footing. In August 2000 Mr Zureikat made an initial donation to the Appeal of almost £225,000. The table below sets out the available information about all of Mr Zureikat's donations:
DateBank Account Particulars (as detailed on bank statement) Receipts
04.08.00Lloyds TSB account no. 0223776 Mr Fawaz Abdallah F/Flow £224,996.31
13.03.01Lloyds TSB account no. 0223776 Mr Fawaz Abdallah F/Flow £27,338.62
11.07.01Lloyds TSB account no. 0223776 Mr Fawaz Abdallah F/Flow £21,107.16
25.10.01Lloyds TSB account no. 0223776 BGC Fawaz F/Flow£20,852.49
28.11.01Lloyds TSB account no. 0223776 BGC Fawaz F/Flow£17,473.38
13.02.02Lloyds TSB account no. 0223776 BGC Fawaz Zureikat at F/Flow £13,869.70
13.06.02Lloyds TSB account no. 0223776 BGC Fawaz Zureikat F/Flow £13,467.45
17.07.02Lloyds TSB account no. 0223776 BGC Fawaz Zureikat F/Flow £6,270.54
08.08.02Lloyds TSB account no. 0223776 BGC Fawaz Zureikat F/Flow £12,841.18
27.08.02Lloyds TSB account no. 0223776 BGC Fawaz Zureikat F/Flow £65,407.19
06.12.02Lloyds TSB account no. 0223776 BGC Fawaz Abdullah Zar F/Flow £24,624.27
TotalLloyds TSB account no. 0223776 £448,248.29

143. At this point, it may be helpful to interject what is known from the evidence I have received about Mr Zureikat's relationship with Mr Galloway. In my interview with him on 24 February 2005, Mr Galloway said that he first met Mr Zureikat at the St. Stephen's entrance of the House of Commons in the summer of 1999. Mr Zureikat had originally been known to Dr Abu-Zayyad (Mr Galloway's former wife). Subsequently;

". . .events have thrown us close together, so he is a friend."[251]

In his evidence to the US Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations in May 2005, Mr Galloway confirmed that he had acted as best man at Mr Zureikat's wedding.[252]

144. Mr Zureikat set up and ran the National Mobilisation Campaign for the Defence of Iraq, based in Jordan. It appears from the testimony of Mr Halford that Mr Zureikat (who has consistently failed to respond to my invitations to him to give evidence) first became involved significantly in the Mariam Appeal during the Big Ben to Baghdad Bus Trip in the autumn of 1999. According to the evidence of Mr Galloway and Mr Halford, he succeeded Mr Galloway as Chairman of the Appeal in the course of 2000.[253]

145. Both the available financial records of the Appeal and Mr Halford's testimony indicate that Mr Zureikat became the major financial supporter of the Appeal in its latter stages. As Mr Halford put it, without Mr Zureikat's donations, the Appeal would have stopped once the UAE (Abu Dhabi) money ran out.

"When the Appeal was running out of money Mr Halford would notify Mr Galloway. He [Mr Galloway] would then tell Mr Halford donations were on the way, contact Mr Zureikat directly to ask for donations or ask Mr Halford to contact Mr Zureikat for donations."[254]

Later in the same interview Mr Halford said:

"[I] would phone or meet Mr Galloway and let him know the position or meet Mr Galloway and let him know the position on the account. Mr Galloway would ring or ask [me] to ring Mr Zureikat, who would say if and when he could donate more money."[255]

(F) THE FINANCIAL RECORDS OF THE APPEAL

146. According to Mr Galloway in testimony to the Charity Commission, the books and records of the Mariam Appeal were transferred to Jordan and Baghdad on Mr Zureikat becoming Chairman of the Appeal. In a letter of 13 April 2004 to the Commission, Mr Galloway's solicitors said on behalf of their client:

". . .the majority of the documents relating to the Mariam Appeal and the treatment of Mariam Hamza are not currently in the possession of Mr Galloway or Dr Amineh Abu-Zayyad. The documents were handed to Fawaz Zureikat by the Mariam Appeal's Vice Chairman, Stuart Halford, when he took over the role of Chairman from Mr Galloway and the Appeal's London office was closed down and moved to Baghdad in mid 2001. The documents are now in either Baghdad or Amman and are not currently traceable due to the unsettled political situation in Iraq and Jordan."[256]

147. When I put this explanation to Mr Halford he replied:

"I would like to reiterate that at no time were the records of the Mariam Appeal handed over by me to Fawaz Zureikat or indeed sent by me to him. As far as I can recollect only two or three A4 envelopes were ever sent by me to Fawaz Zureikat by FedEx to his business address in Jordan. These contained letterheads and basic campaign literature but nothing that could be deemed 'records' of the Mariam Appeal. As I previously said Mr Galloway himself may well have handed over records/documents of the Mariam Appeal to Fawaz Zureikat but again I reiterate that if this was the case the records/documents in question did not include any material that I ever knew about or was in my possession. As far as I am concerned it seems that George Galloway has misled his lawyers on this point. As I have already explained George Galloway asked me to get rid of the Mariam Appeal records I held. These records did not include anything of a sensitive nature and I knew that some of them could be replaced. I did as I was told as George Galloway was my boss."[257]

148. The record of my interview with Mr Halford on 6 October 2005, to which Mr Halford alludes in the above letter, reads on this point:

"The Commissioner asked about the transfer to Jordan, in 2000, of books and records of the Appeal, when Fawaz Zureikat had become chairman. Stuart Halford said that he had no idea why the records would have been sent to Jordan, and that if they were sent they did not include any material that had been in his possession. George Galloway had told him to get rid of the records he had of the Appeal at the end of 2002. Stuart Halford did not consider any of that material to have been sensitive—it had consisted of petitions and letters of support, databases (of supporters, etc), receipts for expenditure, normal office material, information re other organisations' anti-sanctions work, bank statements (which he knew could be replaced) and so on. He would not have been given any sensitive material by George Galloway or Fawaz Zureikat since he did not believe that George Galloway had fully trusted him.

"The Commissioner asked about the records that Stuart Halford had held. Stuart Halford said that the records had consisted of letters, petitions, stationery and so on. He had been uncomfortable about George Galloway's instruction that they be destroyed but at this point the records had been held in his house and he had been the sole employee of the Appeal for some time. He did what he was told and George Galloway was not someone to argue with.

"The Commissioner asked about the significance of the books and records which it was said had been transferred to Jordan. Stuart Halford said that he had no knowledge of the records George Galloway said he had sent to Jordan. They may have been documents George Galloway considered sensitive. If documents were sent to Fawaz Zureikat they did not include anything Stuart Halford had held, but other documents could have been sent to Fawaz Zureikat by George Galloway."[258]

149. I put to Mr Galloway both Mr Halford's assertion that he (Mr Halford) had not given Mr Zureikat any significant papers of the Appeal and his claim that Mr Galloway had instructed him at the end of 2002 to destroy records he held of the Appeal. Mr Galloway said in his letter of 1 November 2006 that he had never at any time asked Mr Halford to destroy the Appeal's records.[259] He had told Mr Halford that he could get rid of leaflets and posters connected with the Appeal when they were no longer needed, but that was entirely different from any alleged destruction of records. During our subsequent interview, he repeated that when Mr Fawaz Zureikat had become chairman of the Appeal, he had been sent historical documentation, publicity material and stationery relating to the Appeal.[260] Although disputing during that interview the nature of what constituted the books and records of the Appeal and who had passed them to Mr Zureikat, he concluded in his letter to me of 5 March 2007:

"Exactly who passed the documentation to Mr Fawaz Zuerikat is less relevant than the fact that I take responsibility for its having been done."[261]

The picture which emerges from Mr Galloway's responses is that the books and records passed to Mr Zureikat were largely non-financial in character, and that the Appeal did not keep detailed financial records in a conventional sense.[262]

(G) RECEIPTS BY MR GALLOWAY FROM THE MARIAM APPEAL

150. On the basis of the information obtained by the Charity Commission about the bank accounts of the Appeal, Mr Galloway received a total of £5,612.61 in cheques drawn on the Appeal during its lifetime. According to its report, Mr Galloway assured the Commission that the monies he received from the Appeal related to expenses incurred in his duties as the Appeal's Chairman.[263]

151. However, a higher figure emerges from a letter of 13 April 2004 sent by Mr Galloway's solicitors to the Commission.[264] This gave a detailed account of the total support received by Mr Galloway in respect of trips abroad paid for by the Appeal, as recorded in the Register of Members' Interests. According to this explanation, the amount recorded in cheques referring to these trips totaled at least £16,995.32, a substantially higher figure than that reported by the Commission.[265]

152. It is possible that the explanation for this apparent discrepancy lies in the fact that, according to the evidence of Mr Stuart Halford, Mr Galloway generally asked for his expenses to be made out to Dr Abu Zayyad and to be sent to their joint account at the Co-operative Bank in Glasgow.[266] Mr Galloway subsequently confirmed this arrangement, explaining that Dr Abu Zayyad had been in charge of submitting his expenses to Mr Halford and, as the account into which they were paid was a joint one, it made no difference in whose name the cheque was made out.[267]

(H) FINANCIAL CONTROLS AT THE MARIAM APPEAL

153. The Charity Commission's Director of Operations said at the end of the Commission's first inquiry that it had "found no evidence to suggest that the large amounts of money given to the Mariam Appeal were not properly used." The absence of comprehensive financial and other records relating to the Appeal must inevitably qualify this conclusion. Moreover, in evidence to me, Mr Stuart Halford exposed a situation in which, he alleged, financial control systems within the charity were weak.[268] This allegation is, however, firmly denied by Mr Galloway.

154. Various related allegations were made by Mr Halford, to which Mr Galloway responded initially during my interview with him on 30 November 2006. Although I have obtained some evidence relating to them, they are not central to my inquiries into Mr Galloway's obligations to the House (as opposed to the issue of how he and others ran the Mariam campaign). Nonetheless Mr Galloway has made much of them in correspondence since that interview, in particular in questioning the reliability and veracity of Mr Halford's evidence, both specifically and, by implication more generally. For this reason they merit some attention.

155. In a letter to me dated 23 February 2006,[269] Mr Halford said:

"As previously discussed with you the whole structure of the Mariam Appeal was very loose and I would like to add that on many occasions I was requested by GG to send signed blank cheques to his office in Westminster. All Mariam Appeal cheques required two signatures and some of GG's parliamentary staff were at varying times signatories for the Mariam Appeal account. Therefore, despite signing a cheque I did not always know to whom that cheque would be paid and as a result I am sure that there are many Mariam Appeal cheques bearing my signature of which I have absolutely no knowledge."

Mr Galloway has denied this and has counter-claimed that it was Mr Halford who instigated the practice of circulating blank cheques. In his counter-claim, he is supported by two former members of his staff who were counter-signatories on Mariam Appeal cheques and, he says, by Mr Sabah Al-Mukhtar.[270] Mr Halford, on the other hand, vigorously denies the allegations which have been made about him.

156. I have not thought it appropriate or feasible for me to get to the bottom of this aspect of the evidence. Although it is highly relevant to the question how the Mariam Appeal was conducted (where, at the least, it seems to underpin Mr Halford's claim about the inadequacy of financial controls at the Appeal), it is not relevant to Mr Galloway's duties to the House. Nor do I have the basis to justify me making any kind of finding about it. I simply observe that if Mr Halford is, as Mr Galloway asserts, the guilty party in this matter, it is odd that he should have been the person who drew my attention to it in the first place.

157. At my meeting with Mr Halford on 6 October 2005, I asked him about the level of expenses he had been paid by the Appeal, which appeared high.[271] In subsequent exchanges, Mr Halford demonstrated to my satisfaction that much of what appeared to be expenses was in fact salary. Mr Galloway has persistently sought to discredit Mr Halford over this matter, implying that blank cheques were floating around the Appeal so that Mr Halford could use them to claim an inflated level of expenses.[272] I have seen no evidence which confirms this.

158. Finally in this context, in the course of my interview with Mr Galloway on 30 November 2006 I put to him a suggestion that an 'E Laing'—who had received a total of £13,750 from the Appeal and who, it was alleged, had not done any work to justify the payment made to her—was someone who had formerly been closely associated with him.[273] I believed, at the time, that this suggestion had been corroborated by Mr Halford in his letter of 23 February 2006.[274] Mr Galloway denied the assertion.[275] After further investigation, I satisfied myself as to the identify of 'E Laing' and that the original allegation concerning her was unfounded.

159. Mr Galloway claims that the fact that Mr Halford's evidence proved mistaken on this point is fatal to the credibility of all his evidence. I do not accept that argument. The credibility of Mr Halford's evidence is something to be weighed as a whole, including in relation to all the other evidence I have gathered in the course of my inquiry.

(I) MR GALLOWAY'S PARLIAMENTARY OFFICE AND THE MARIAM APPEAL

160. Among the evidence I gathered was some which appeared to indicate that the proper boundary may not have been observed in the conduct of the Mariam Appeal between Mr Galloway's Parliamentary staff and office on the one hand and the staff of the Appeal on the other. The evidence included:

a)  Until the Appeal acquired separate offices in Northumberland Avenue in 1999, it appears to have been administered from Mr Galloway's Parliamentary office, then at 7 Millbank, London SW1. A circular letter of 8 May 1998 urging support for the Appeal was printed on House of Commons headed stationery carrying the Crowned Portcullis insignia. Contributions to the Appeal were to be sent to Mr Galloway's Parliamentary office.[276]

b)  Members of Mr Galloway's Parliamentary staff undertook work for and received payments from the Appeal.[277] Members of staff were also counter signatories to cheques drawn on the Appeal.[278]

c)  According to Mr Halford's evidence:

"As the operation [of the Mariam Appeal] contracted, Stuart Halford took on more responsibilities, along with George Galloway's Parliamentary staff. Stuart Halford confirmed that George Galloway's parliamentary staff were involved in some aspects of the Mariam Appeal, such as organising travel and helping when things were busy (eg to get out a mass mailing of 7,000 supporters). There had been close contact with George Galloway's office.

"The Commissioner asked whether that work related to the implications for George Galloway's Parliamentary commitments of Appeal activity, or related to the wider campaigning work of the Appeal itself.

"Stuart Halford said that George Galloway's office staff did do work for the Appeal as well as Parliament. For example, some of George Galloway's parliamentary staff were counter-signatories for the Appeal and one went on the bus trip. The office was used as an extension of the Appeal in some ways and assisted in large database mailings, but did not use Parliamentary stationery, rather the time of George Galloway's staff."[279]

161. Mr Galloway has accepted that his Parliamentary staff and Parliamentary office were used in support of the Mariam Appeal, although he has disputed that that use was extensive.[280] He argues that Members of Parliament are regularly involved in political campaigns, and that it is perfectly acceptable for them to use their Parliamentary staff for this purpose. As he put it during our interview on 30 November 2006:

"I am a Member of Parliament, I am entitled to campaign against British Government policy, and I am entitled to ask my staff to help me do so."[281]

162. Mr Galloway reiterated this argument in his letter of 5 March 2007:

"The Mariam Appeal was a political campaign against the policies of the British government relating to Iraq. As such it was perfectly normal and in line with the political activities of many MPs to use some of my Parliamentary time and that of my Parliamentary staff in pursuit of the objectives of the campaign. It was neither a business nor a charity. I had no pecuniary interest in the campaign."[282]

His then office was, he says, used as the correspondence address of the campaign for "a short period". He does not dispute that, but does not know why, the circular letter of 8 May 1998, was sent on House of Commons rather than Mariam Appeal notepaper. Members of his Parliamentary staff, he says:

"… did work for the objectives of the campaign. Members of my staff in their personal capacities were, from time to time, counter signatories to the campaign's chequebooks. This is all", he concludes, "common practice in political campaigns run by Members of Parliament."[283]

3.  The Oil for Food Programme

163. The central charge in the Daily Telegraph documents is that Mr Galloway received money from the regime of Saddam Hussein through the mechanism of the UN Oil for Food Programme (OFF Programme). I turn now to describe the nature of the Programme and the evidence linking Mr Galloway and his friend and colleague in the Mariam Appeal, Mr Fawaz Zureikat, to it.

164. The Oil for Food programme was agreed between the UN Security Council and the Iraqi Government as a means of mitigating the negative impact of UN sanctions on the Iraqi people. It allowed Iraq to sell some of its oil and to buy food, medicines and other humanitarian goods with the proceeds. The Programme ran in 13 six monthly phases between December 1996 and March 2003. During its lifetime, Iraq sold $64.2 billion worth of oil to 248 companies and spent some $34.5 billion on humanitarian goods from 3,614 companies. A note prepared by staff of the House based on available information and describing how the Programme worked is at Annex 2.

165. As the Independent Inquiry Committee into the Oil for Food Programme (see paragraphs 167 et seq below) subsequently discovered, in the course of the Programme, the then Iraqi Government found a number of ways to exploit it both in order to reward those it considered to be its friends and to generate income directly for itself (i.e. in addition to the income it received indirectly from oil sales via the UN-controlled Iraq account). The former was achieved by awarding oil allocations (i.e. options to buy oil, which could be sold on for a commission) and contracts for the supply of humanitarian goods (which could also be sold on for a commission). The latter was achieved, in the case of oil transactions, by setting the price of the oil sufficiently low not only to provide room for a commission to be paid to the holder of the allocation by its eventual purchaser but also to allow the then Iraqi Government to levy a surcharge on the allocation holder or purchaser, the sanction being that if the surcharge was not paid no further oil would be allocated. This system of surcharges operated from Phase VIII of the Programme. In the case of humanitarian contracts, various other forms of kickback were demanded from those supplying goods, by means such as extra charges in connection with the transportation of goods within Iraq.

166. Initial decisions about who was to receive oil allocations were made by a special four man committee of the then Iraqi regime chaired by the Vice President and including the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Tariq Aziz. Recommendations by the Committee were submitted to the President, Saddam Hussein, for approval.

(A) THE IIC (VOLCKER) REPORT

167. In April 2004, following serious allegations about the administration and management of the OFF Programme, the Secretary General of the UN appointed an Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) to determine whether the established procedures for operating the Programme had been violated and whether there was evidence of any wrongdoing by UN officials. The Committee was chaired by Mr Paul A Volcker, a former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve system.

168. The Committee published its final Report in October 2005. I subsequently met members of Mr Volcker's team in New York. I summarise below the IIC's findings in relation to Mr Galloway, Mr Zureikat and the OFF Programme. The relevant extract from the IIC's report is appended at WE38.

169. Based on a combination of UN, Iraqi Government and bank records, and interviews with former Iraqi ministers and officials, the Committee concluded that a total of over 18 million barrels of oil were allocated in Phases VIII though XIII of the OFF Programme either directly in the name of Mr Galloway or of Mr Zureikat. Mr Zureikat had received commissions for handling the sale of approximately 11 million barrels allocated in Mr Galloway's name.[284] Another oil beneficiary, Dr Burhan Al-Chalabi, had also, the Committee concluded, received an allocation (under Phase VII of the Programme) intended to benefit the Mariam Appeal. A portion of the profits from Dr Al-Chalabi's allocation had been deposited into a bank account of Mr Galloway's former wife, Dr Abu-Zayyad. (I have interviewed Dr Al-Chalabi on this matter and I set out his evidence below.)[285]

170. Nearly two thirds of the total of 18 million barrels of oil allocated, according to Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organisation records, to Mr Galloway, either directly or indirectly through Mr Zureikat, had been lifted. Interviews with former Iraqi ministers and officials, including the former Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Tariq Aziz and the former head of the Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO) had, according to the IIC report, confirmed that the allocations had been granted to fund Mr Galloway's anti-sanctions activities. Iraqi officials had also identified Mr Zureikat as acting on Mr Galloway's behalf to conduct oil transactions in Baghdad.[286]

171. The IIC Report tabulated the oil allocations in the name of Mr Galloway and Mr Zureikat as follows:
PhaseBeneficiary Name on SOMO Allocations Table Beneficiary Name on SOMO Request For Approval of Contract Country Designation Barrels of Oil Allocation
VIIIFawaz Zureikat Fawaz Zureikat United Kingdom 4 Million
IXFawaz Zureikat

Fawaz Zureikat

Fawaz Zureikat-

Mariam Campaign

Fawaz Zureikat

3 Million

2 Million

X Mr Galloway/ Fawaz Zureikat Fawaz ZureikatUnited Kingdom 3 Million
XIMr Galloway/Fawaz Zureikat

Fawaz Zureikat

Mr Galloway

Fawaz Zureikat

United Kingdom

Jordan

3 Million

1 Million

XIIMr Galloway/Fawaz Zureikat

Fawaz Zureikat

Mr Galloway

Fawaz Zureikat

United Kingdom

Jordan

3 million

1 million

XIII Mr Galloway /Fawaz Zureikat

Fawaz Zureikat

Mr Galloway

Fawaz Zureikat

United Kingdom

Jordan

2 Million

1 Million

172. Between phases VIII and XII of the Programme, approximately 11 million barrels of the oil allocations related to Mr Galloway and Mr Zureikat (designated as 'United Kingdom' allocations) were purchased by Aredio, a petroleum company, and ASI Middle East Advanced Semi Conductor Inc (MEASI), Mr Zureikat's company, which specialized in supplying electronic parts and had extensive commercial interests in Iraq. Some of the oil contracts were financed by a company called Taurus (with which Aredio was affiliated), which also purchased and financed some of the oil (designated as 'Jordan') allocations granted personally to Mr Zureikat. Surcharges totaling $2,103,034 were levied by the then Iraqi Government on four contracts corresponding to allocations which, according to SOMO and Oil Ministry records, were for the benefit of Mr Galloway and his campaign.

173. Mr Zureikat's company, MEASI, also benefited extensively from contracts for the supply of humanitarian goods under the Programme. A briefing paper released by the IIC on 21 October 2004 indicated that MEASI had sold goods under the humanitarian programme for the central and southern regions of Iraq to a total value of $22,241,000:
Goods Total Purchases (in millions of US$)
Adult Milk 9.461
Detergent 0.815
Toilet Soap 0.678
Vegetable Ghee 11.287
Total 22.241

174. The IIC report of 27 October 2005 says that Mr Galloway denied requesting oil allocations or receiving financial support from the former Government of Iraq. Mr Zureikat acknowledged receiving oil allocations for himself, but denied acting as Mr Galloway's representative in connection with any Iraqi oil transactions under the Programme. Iraqi officials, however, said that Mr Zureikat negotiated both his own oil contracts at SOMO and those intended to benefit Mr Galloway's campaign against sanctions through the Mariam Appeal.[287]

(B) DR BURHAN AL-CHALABI: ALLOCATION UNDER PHASE VII OF THE PROGRAMME

175. The report charts the relationship between the execution of a number of contracts arising from allocations ostensibly made in support of Mr Galloway and the Mariam Appeal, and the receipt of moneys by the Appeal or by others associated with it. The Committee suggests that the first such allocation was not one made in Phases VIII-XIII of the Programme to Mr Galloway or Mr Zureikat, but one made under Phase VII to Dr Burhan Al-Chalabi.

176. In late 1999 Dr Al-Chalabi received initially an allocation of three million barrels, subsequently increased to four. He nominated a company called Fortum Oil and Gas to purchase his allocation.[288] Subsequently Neste Oil, a subsidiary of Fortum, made a donation of £6,750 to the Mariam Appeal. The IIC also found evidence of payments by Dr Al-Chalabi from the commission he received from Fortum of over $120,000 to Dr Abu Zayyad and $70,000 to Mr Zureikat.

177. I interviewed Dr Al-Chalabi about this matter and set out below the relevant evidence.[289] As will be seen, Dr Al-Chalabi's evidence casts interesting light on the working of the OFF Programme and on several aspects of the allegations against Mr Galloway.

178. Dr Al-Chalabi, who describes his business as property development, has been a prominent member of the Iraqi community in London for many years. In 1996 he became a United Kingdom citizen. He was, he says, from conviction, an early opponent of the UN sanctions regime against Iraq and a supporter of certain activities of the Mariam Appeal, including the 'Day and Night for the People of Iraq'. He was not, however, at any point, an officer or trustee of the Appeal.

179. According to Dr Al-Chalabi, he first met Mr Galloway in the latter part of 1999 following the 'Big Ben to Baghdad' bus event. Dr Al-Chalabi had conceived the idea of a mercy flight delivering medical aid from London to Baghdad and sought Mr Galloway's help in making the idea a reality. Subsequently, however, Dr Al-Chalabi became disillusioned when the project became a political rather than a humanitarian flight. The original humanitarian flight as conceived by Dr Al-Chalabi having been cancelled, he and Mr Galloway parted company:

"I mean, the only thing I had in common with Mr Galloway was the flight. When the flight was cancelled I was disappointed and we went our separate ways."[290]

180. Before Dr Al-Chalabi and Mr Galloway parted company, they visited Baghdad in December 1999 to seek the then Iraqi Government's support for the idea.[291] There they met Mr Tariq Aziz and people at the Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Health[292]. Dr Al-Chalabi also met people at the Ministry of Education. Dr Al-Chalabi denied that there was any discussion at meetings at which both he and Mr Galloway were present of assistance from the former Iraqi regime for Mr Galloway's anti-sanctions efforts.[293]

181. Dr Al-Chalabi denied that he himself ever held an oil contract from SOMO but said that in order to fund the projected 'mercy flight' he began to contact companies to see if he could assist them to do business in Iraq, thereby earning commission sufficient to cover the cost. In that context he contacted, through Mr Rodney Gavshon, an oil-trader who he knew, the oil company Fortum.[294] During his visit to Baghdad with Mr Galloway in December 1999, he made it known to the people he met around Mr Tariq Aziz and in the Foreign Ministry with which companies he was working:

". . .so I made the word known that if these companies get any contracts then there will be commission which I will be using for a flight, so I was a commission agent."[295]

Dr Al-Chalabi effected an introduction between Fortum and SOMO, attending the first meeting between them. Subsequently Fortum (through its subsidiary Neste) received an oil contract and paid Dr Al-Chalabi commission on it of some $400,000.[296]

182. The contract (M/07/83) was originally for three million barrels of oil. According to SOMO records it was subsequently increased to four million. Dr Al-Chalabi denied knowing anything about the additional one million.[297] In some manner unknown to him, through the agency of Mr Fawaz Zureikat, Fortum had succeeded in achieving an increase in the size of the contract. At Fortum's request, Dr Al-Chalabi acted as conduit for the payment by the company to Mr Zureikat of commission of $70,000 on this additional allocation, earning some additional commission for Dr Al-Chalabi's company, Delta Services, in the process.[298] However, he was not, he says, party in any other way to the arrangement between Fortum and Mr Zureikat.

183. As regards the payments made by Dr Al-Chalabi to Dr Amineh Abu-Zayyad from the commission he earned on this contract, Dr Al-Chalabi acknowledged that he made the payments but insisted that they were made to help Dr Abu-Zayyad's work researching the effect of depleted uranium on Iraqi children.[299] Initially he had intended the commission he received to be devoted to funding the humanitarian flight. When the flight failed to materialize in the form he intended, and following an offer from an alternative source to fund the flight (subsequently arranged by the Mariam Appeal), he decided to use some of the commission to fund Dr Abu-Zayyad's work. The remainder was used "to help the Iraqi people."[300]

184. Dr Al-Chalabi was adamant that none of the commission he earned had gone to Mr Galloway or the Mariam Appeal.[301] His only contribution to the Appeal, he said, had been the purchase for £1,000 of a voucher for two seats on the original 'mercy flight' to Baghdad. When that flight had been cancelled, he had decided not to reclaim it.[302] His evidence is otherwise consistent with the information uncovered by the IIC.

(C) ALLOCATIONS UNDER PHASES VIII-XIII OF THE PROGRAMME: PAYMENTS TO THE MARIAM APPEAL

185. Having described in some detail the evidence of Dr Al-Chalabi in relation to the contract on which he received commission from Fortum under Phase VII of the OFF Programme, I turn to set out the evidence relating to commission payments received by Mr Zureikat under the Programme and donations made by him to the Mariam Appeal. In doing so, I draw not only on material assembled by the IIC, but also on the result of extensive inquiries made by the US Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations. The information unearthed by the Sub-Committee was contained in staff reports published in connection initially with a hearing of the Sub-Committee on 17 May 2005 before which Mr Galloway appeared to give oral evidence, and subsequently in a report published on 25 October 2005.[303]

186. Putting the information from the IIC and Senate Sub-Committee reports together, the picture which emerges is:

a)  Phase VIII allocation—Mr Zureikat was granted an allocation of 4 million barrels under this phase of the OFF Programme. SOMO subsequently executed a contract for this amount (M/08/35) with Aredio Petroleum. In the event, 2,645,068 barrels of oil were lifted under the contract. The oil lifted was purchased from Aredio by Taurus Petroleum.

Taurus paid $740,000 into Mr Zureikat's Citibank account as commission for this oil. The money was transferred into the account on 27 July 2000. On 3 August 3 2000, Mr Zureikat transferred some $150,000 to Mr Galloway's then wife, Dr Abu Zayyad, and a further $340,000 to the Mariam Appeal. In addition he made payments totaling $250,000 to other individuals and organisations, including Mr Galloway's spokesman, Mr Ron McKay and Mr Zureikat's company, MEASI.

According to information uncovered by the Senate Permanent Sub-Committee, most of the money in Mr Zureikat's Citibank account had come from transactions under the OFF Programme. Therefore the payments made both to Dr Abu Zayyad and the Mariam Appeal at this time came substantially from the proceeds of commission payments arising from OFF Programme transactions.

b)  Phase IX allocation—Mr Zureikat received two allocations under this Phase, one of 3 million barrels (contract M/09/23) and one of 2 million (contract M/09/118). The first allocation was made in the name of Mr Fawaz Zureikat-Mariam Campaign, the second in the name of Mr Zureikat alone.[304]

990,610 barrels of oil were lifted by Taurus in connection with contract M/09/118. A chart subsequently sent by SOMO to the Oil Minister identified the purchaser as "Middle East (Galloway)". Taurus wired a commission payment of $297,183 (30 cents a barrel) to Mr Zureikat's Citibank account on 5 July 2001. 4 days later Mr Zureikat wired $30,000 to the Mariam Appeal. Before the payment by Taurus into the account, it had held a balance of only $10.66.

c)  Phase X allocation—according to SOMO records, Mr Galloway/Fawaz Zureikat received an allocation of 3 million barrels (contract M/10/38). The allocation was lifted by Taurus in 2 shipments, one in September and the other in October 2001. On 17 October 2001, Taurus wired a payment of $336,009.96 to Mr Zureikat's account at the Arab Bank. On 25 October 2001, Mr Zureikat transferred £20,852.49 (approximately $30,000) to the Mariam Appeal account at Lloyds TSB.

On 19 November 2001 Taurus paid $698,640.14 to Mr Zureikat's account at the Arab Bank as commission on the second oil shipment. On 28 November 2001, Mr Zureikat forwarded £17,473.38 (approximately $26,000) to the Mariam Appeal account at Lloyds TSB.[305]

d)  Phase XI allocation—according to SOMO records, Mr Galloway/Fawaz Zureikat received an allocation of 3 million barrels in this phase (as a United Kingdom allocation. In addition, Mr Zureikat received one million as a Jordan allocation). On 29 December 2001, 2,360,860 barrels of this allocation were lifted, and purchased by Taurus. On 31 January 2002, Taurus transferred $835,932.10 to Mr Zureikat's account at the Jordan National Bank. Seven days later Mr Zureikat forwarded $20,000 from this account to the Mariam Appeal.

e)  Phase XII allocation—a further 3 million barrels were allocated to Mr Galloway/Fawaz Zureikat in this phase (contract M/12/24). 1,400,000 barrels of oil were lifted under the contract. No information is available about the receipt or distribution by Mr Zureikat of commission payments under that contract.

f)  Phase XIII allocation—similarly, no information is available in relation to contract M/13/48 under which, according to SOMO records, Mr Galloway/Fawaz Zureikat were awarded 2 million barrels of oil in the final phase of the Programme.

187. In addition to the information summarised above, the US Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations found evidence of a loan of $50,000 by Taurus to Mr Zureikat on 28 February 2001. On the day the loan became available in the account, Mr Zureikat transferred $40,000 to the Mariam Appeal account at Lloyds TSB. The Sub-Committee's report of 25 October 2005 concludes that:

". . . approximately $446,000 was transferred by Zureikat into the Mariam Appeal bank account at Lloyds TSB in connection with oil transactions between August 2000 and February 2002."

That finding is attested to by the bank records of the Appeal and related bank documents appended to the Sub-Committee's report.

188. The Sub-Committee also found evidence of 5 further deposits into the account between June and December 2002 totalling $190,000. The Sub-Committee speculates that some of this total may have resulted from contracts for humanitarian goods awarded to MEASI[306], but did not uncover evidence linking these payments to any specific commercial transaction.

(D) MR GALLOWAY'S RESPONSE TO THE SENATE AND IIC REPORTS

189. Mr Galloway has consistently denied that either he or the Mariam Appeal have benefited from funds from Iraq. In a memorable appearance before the Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on 17 May 2005, Mr Galloway said:

"I can assure you, Mr Zureikat never gave me a penny from an oil deal, from a cake deal, from a bread deal, or from any deal."

He denied having any knowledge before 2003 that Mr Zureikat was engaged in oil deals. Although he knew that Mr Zureikat was heavily involved in business in Iraq and elsewhere:

". . .it was none of my business what particular transactions or business he was involved in."[307]

190. In his response to the IIC's findings, Mr Galloway said:

"I had nothing to do with any oil deals done by Mr Fawaz Zureikat or anyone else."

He also stated that his former wife, Dr Abu-Zayyad, denied that she had ever "received $120,000 from Dr Burhan Chelabi (sic) or anyone else."[308] In an interview with me on 30 November 2006, Mr Galloway stated that his former wife had told him that she had received the money from a source in Switzerland. It was on the basis of his recollection of this that he had responded to the Committee.[309]

4.  Did Mr Galloway know what was afoot?

191. I turn now to set out the evidence which bears on the question whether Mr Galloway himself solicited funding from the then Iraqi regime—either for himself or for his political activities in opposition to sanctions—and/or whether he knew of the oil deals and other contracts negotiated by Mr Zureikat under the OFF Programme, moneys derived from which went (on the evidence set out in the previous section of this report) to benefit the Mariam Appeal. The evidence is also relevant to the question whether Mr Galloway was reckless or negligent in observing his obligations to the House under the Code of Conduct.

(A) THE DAILY TELEGRAPH DOCUMENTS

192. Evidence uncovered by my inquiries and by those undertaken by the IIC and the Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations corroborates at a number of points the information contained in the key documents published by the Daily Telegraph.

(i) The Intelligence Chief's Memo

193. The memo begins with a reference to Mr Zureikat who it describes as "an envoy of Mr George Galloway because he participated with him in all the Mariam Campaign's activities in Jordan and Iraq:"[310]

  • Mr Galloway has acknowledged that he appointed Mr Zureikat as his representative in Baghdad on all matters concerning his work with the Mariam Appeal or the Emergency Committee in Iraq.[311]
  • Mr Halford's evidence indicates that Mr Zureikat participated in the Jordan and Iraq stages of the Big Ben to Baghdad bus trip.[312]

Mr Zureikat's later involvement in the Mariam Appeal (including his role as its chairman) has been well documented earlier in this report.

194. The memorandum goes on in paragraph 2 to refer to a meeting between an Iraqi Intelligence Officer and Mr Galloway, arranged by Mr Zureikat, which took place on Boxing Day, 26 December 1999. Mr Galloway has acknowledged being in Baghdad with Mr Zureikat in December 1999 He has confirmed that they were staying in the same hotel and that Mr Zureikat was one of the people he met on 26 December 1999.[313]. However he has denied ever, to his knowledge, meeting anyone from the Iraqi intelligence service.[314] As people working in the intelligence world do not always declare themselves as such, it is possible of course that Mr Galloway did meet an official of Iraqi Intelligence on that day without knowing that he was doing so. However, Mr Galloway has never given precise evidence as to what he did do or who he met on 26 December 1999:

  • Letter of 29 August 2003—"I met several people on Boxing Day 1999; none of them to my knowledge was an official of Iraqi intelligence."[315]
  • In the High Court on 16 November 2004—"I know now from my discussions with [Fawaz Zureikat] what I was doing on Boxing Day when I was not meeting an Iraqi intelligence officer." [316] What he knew from his discussions with Mr Zureikat, Mr Galloway did not go on to reveal.
  • In a letter dated 22 August 2005—"Neither can I be more helpful than I have been about Christmas Day and Boxing Day five years ago. I had Christmas lunch with Mr Tariq Aziz, his family, friends and other Ministers on Christmas Day. As far as I recollect I met no one of importance on Boxing Day. As far as I recall, I spent it in my hotel."[317]
  • During discussion with me on 30 November 2006—"Let me unequivocally state that I did not meet any Iraqi intelligence officer to the best of my knowledge, I did not meet anyone important, and I am almost certain that I spent the entirety of the day in the hotel".[318]

In short, Mr Galloway has denied knowingly meeting an Iraqi Intelligence officer. However, he has never specified who, other than Mr Zureikat, he did meet in Baghdad on Boxing Day 1999.

195. The memorandum refers to a number of projects Mr Galloway is said to plan, including "broadcasting programmes for the benefit of Iraq." Mr Halford's evidence refers to the involvement of Mr Galloway and Mr Zureikat in Arab TV, of which Mr Zureikat became a major sponsor.[319] In his interview with me on 30 November 2006, Mr Galloway said that he had been talking to the Arabs for 20 years about the idea of an English-speaking, Arab television channel.[320]

196. The memorandum goes on to say of Mr Galloway:

"He obtained through Mr Tariq Aziz 3 million barrels of oil, every six months, according to the oil-for-food programme. . .He also obtained a limited number of food contracts with the Ministry of Trade."

I have documented in the previous section of this report both the oil allocations which, according to Iraqi official records, were credited either to Mr Galloway or to Mr Zureikat and the contracts for humanitarian goods awarded to Mr Zureikat's company MEASI.

197. The report of the US Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations of 25 October 2005 records that in an interview with US officials on 7 July 2005, Mr Tariq Aziz confirmed that Mr Galloway had been granted oil allocations for the purpose of funding his activities with the Mariam Appeal. Mr Galloway's initial request for such facilities had probably been made, the report suggests, when he was in Baghdad following the Big Ben to Baghdad bus trip.[321]

198. The Intelligence Chief's memorandum records Mr Galloway as asking for an increase in his share of oil and for "exceptional commercial and contractual facilities." It also refers to him having entered into partnership with Dr Burhan Al-Chalabi "to sign for his specified oil contracts in accordance with his representative Fawaz", and to Dr Al-Chalabi having been recommended by Mr Mudhafar Al-Amin, the then Head of the Iraqi Interests section in the Royal Jordanian Embassy in London.

199. Dr Al-Chalabi has denied having any such partnership with Mr Galloway and professed ignorance of any activities of Mr Zureikat on Mr Galloway's behalf. Dr Al-Chalabi has, however, acknowledged that Mr Zureikat was aware that he was looking to introduce companies to Iraq and may have been aware of Dr Al-Chalabi's relationship with Fortum Oil and Gas. He has also acknowledged that Mr Mudhafar Al-Amin "is my friend and he is my relative"; that he made a payment from the commission he earned on his oil contract to Mr Al-Amin;[322] and that he discussed with Mr Al-Amin arrangements for the planned mercy flight from London to Baghdad (see paragraph 91 above).

(ii) The Tariq Aziz Memo

200. I have already documented in paragraphs 88-97 above the evidence corroborating the reference in this memorandum to Mr Galloway's alleged "programme of work".

(iii) The Presidential Response and the Follow-up to it

201. The memorandum dated 2 May 2000 from the Head of the President's secretariat, General Abdid Hamid Al-Khattab requested that the proposal in the Intelligence Chief's memorandum be studied by a Committee of Four senior Iraqi ministers, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, while indicating doubt as to whether the extra support allegedly requested by Mr Galloway could be afforded.[323] The response of the Committee, dated 6 May, recommended;

"continuing the cooperation with George Galloway about the oil contracts and other commercial contracts according to the rules as they stand now. . ."[324]

I have set out in the preceding section the contractual arrangements (for both oil and humanitarian goods) in which Mr Zureikat—on his own behalf or allegedly, on behalf of Mr Galloway—was involved. It is noteworthy in this connection that all of the oil contracts on which Mr Zureikat's company received commission were awarded after the Committee of Four's recommendations, as recorded in its response of 6 May 2000, were made.

(B) EVIDENCE OF MR TARIQ AZIZ AND OTHER SENIOR IRAQI OFFICIALS

202. According to the report of the US Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations, Mr Tariq Aziz, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, testified in interviews with the Sub-Committee that Mr Galloway "sometimes asked for funding for his causes" during meetings with Mr Aziz.[325] Mr Aziz recalled Mr Galloway first requesting support to defray the expenses of the Mariam campaign after the Big Ben to Baghdad bus tour. He also recalled Mr Galloway asking at some later point for his allocation to be raised and that it may have been raised, but by not very much.[326]

203. Mr Aziz is reported by the Sub-Committee to have said that he recognised the IIS letter of 3 January 2005 (the Intelligence Chief's memo) and recalled seeing it before.[327] According to the Sub-Committee's report, he recalled Mr Galloway being concerned about the appearance of taking money directly from the Iraqi Government. The solution was to support Mr Galloway indirectly by giving him oil allocations.[328] Mr Aziz is also said to have confirmed that the three recommendations in the Committee of Four's letter of 6 May 2000 to the President's office accurately reflected the conclusions of the Committee, of which he was a member.[329] Former Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan (who chaired the Committee) is also reported by the Sub-Committee to have confirmed the facts stated in the document.[330]

204. Mr Aziz and other senior Iraqi officials were also interviewed by the IIC. The IIC's report of 27 October 2005 records that they "identified Mr Zureikat as acting on Mr Galloway's behalf to conduct the oil transactions in Baghdad." The report adds that, when interviewed a second time, Mr Aziz (though not the other officials) changed his previous assertion that Mr Galloway had received oil allocations. The Committee did not, however, find Mr Aziz's denial—which they ascribed to concern that the evidence he had given might be used against him in subsequent legal proceedings—credible under the circumstances.[331]

205. Following publication of these two reports, Mr Aziz's lawyer, Badia Aref, was reported to have denied that his client had told investigators that Mr Galloway had personally profited from the OFF Programme.[332] No denial has been issued, so far as I am aware, at any point on behalf of the other senior officials referred to in either report.

(C) EVIDENCE OF THE OIL TRADERS

206. The IIC report also refers to evidence given to that Committee by an oil trader, Mr Augusto Giangrandi, who alleges that he had conversations with Mr Galloway about oil sales in Baghdad under the OFF Programme. Mr Galloway, he says, asked him to explain how the process worked financially and how commissions were negotiated. Mr Giangrandi heard from an Iraqi agent he hired that oil had been given to "Abu Mariam" (as Mr Galloway was known) and that Fawaz Zureikat was acting as his representative. Mr Giangrandi told the IIC that he subsequently attempted to negotiate the purchase of oil with Mr Zureikat;

"The deal fell through when Mr Zureikat reported that 'his friend' had received a better offer from another company."[333]

207. The US Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations also interviewed an oil trader (referred to in the Sub-Committee's report of 25 October 2005 as 'Oil Trader 1') who gave evidence very similar to that of Mr Giangrandi. Indeed it seems likely that they are one and the same person. Oil Trader 1's evidence is presented at Appendix D to the Sub-Committee's report.

208. In addition, the Sub-Committee interviewed a second oil trader (identified as 'Oil Trader 2'), who was Oil Trader 1's consultant. He supported Oil Trader 1's account of a negotiation they both had with Mr Zureikat to secure the allocation granted to Mr Galloway/Mr Zureikat in Phase VIII of the OFF Programme. Although the negotiation was ultimately unsuccessful, both traders understood that the allocation under negotiation had been granted to Mr Galloway, and that Mr Zureikat was representing him.[334]

(D) EVIDENCE OF MR STUART HALFORD

209. In discussion with me on 6 October 2005,[335] Mr Halford gave evidence both of Mr Galloway's dominant role in the conduct of the Mariam Appeal and of the crucial role Mr Zureikat played in funding it in its latter stages:

". . .without Mr Zureikat's donations the Appeal would have stopped once the UAE money ran out.

"The Commissioner asked whether Mr Halford would phone Mr Zureikat if money was needed. Mr Halford said he would phone or meet Mr Galloway and let him know the position on the account. Mr Galloway would ring or ask Mr Halford to ring Mr Zureikat, who would say if and when he could donate more money."[336]

210. Mr Halford also said that, although he did not know that Mr Zureikat was an oil trader, before the Appeal closed he had begun to develop suspicions about Mr Zureikat's links with the former Iraqi regime. It became clear to Mr Halford that Mr Zureikat was

"able to arrange things at a high level in Iraq."

Mr Halford added;

"Given all that had emerged since, [he] now felt it was highly likely that the Appeal had been used by the former Iraqi regime and that Mr Zureikat had been used to channel money to it."[337]

211. When asked whether Mr Halford thought that Mr Galloway knew of Mr Zureikat's close contacts with the Iraqi regime and that Mr Zureikat's contributions to the Appeal were the result of these contacts, Mr Halford said that:

". . .Mr Galloway was not a stupid man. Mr Galloway met Mr Zureikat lots of times. . .if it were true that Mr Zureikat had links with the Iraqi regime, he would be very surprised if Mr Galloway was unaware of this."[338]

(E) EVIDENCE OF MR TONY ZUREIKAT

(i) The Evidence

212. Mr Tony Zureikat is a first cousin of Mr Fawaz Zureikat. He is a businessman, working mainly in Iraq and living in Jordan, who has joint US-Jordanian citizenship. I interviewed Mr Tony Zureikat, initially by telephone from Amman and later in person in London on 20 December 2005. A record of the latter interview is at Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Qq 611-777.[339]

213. Mr Tony Zureikat said that he became involved in business dealings in Iraq with his cousin, Fawaz, following his return from the US to Jordan in the early autumn of 2001.[340] Subsequently he parted company with his cousin, partly because of differences over the conduct of their business.[341] However, there had always, he said, been differences of view between them, on political and other issues.[342]

214. Mr Tony Zureikat said that he had been present on a number of occasions when Mr Galloway and his cousin, Fawaz, had visited Iraq. The first occasion was in October 2001, when Mr Galloway had traveled to Amman and then on with both the Zureikats to Baghdad. Immediately on arrival, Fawaz and Mr Galloway had gone to meet Mr Tariq Aziz. Mr Tony Zureikat testified that:

i)  Mr Galloway was fully aware of Mr Fawaz Zureikat's business activities in Iraq, some of which were linked to the Iraqi military.[343]

ii)  The conversations Mr Galloway had with Mr Aziz were used not only to exchange political information and views but to secure business for Fawaz Zureikat.[344]

215. Mr Tony Zureikat went on to describe several meetings of which he was aware at which Mr Galloway and his cousin, Fawaz, had discussed business opportunities with Iraqi ministers. Mr Tony Zureikat was not himself present at those meetings but in respect of those described at (i) below has supplied written evidence in support of what he alleges.

i)  A meeting with the Minister of Agriculture, Abdul Elah.[345] This meeting appears to have taken place during Mr Galloway's visit to Baghdad in October 2001. It was subsequently referred to in a facsimile letter from one of Mr Fawaz Zureikat's business associates, the general director of the Al-Alameya Company, Mr Ahmed Al-Shanti.[346] The letter (a translation of which is appended)[347] is dated 13 October 2001 and reminds the Minister of his meeting with Mr Galloway in the context of submitting a reduced price offer on a contract.[348]

Mr Tony Zureikat has also supplied a facsimile copy of a manuscript letter or note dated 10 October 2001 which he says was written by Fawaz to the Minister of Agriculture.[349] The letter also refers to a meeting with the Minister at which Mr Galloway was said to be present, in the context of reminding the Minister of a tender for insecticide submitted by a company named Al-Yamamah.

ii)  A meeting with the Minister of Information. Tony said that his cousin, Fawaz, was competing for a radio equipment contract on behalf of Thomson-Thales. He alleged that Mr Galloway spoke to Mr Tariq Aziz in order to secure an appointment for himself and Fawaz with the Minister, and that Mr Galloway also met the then Deputy Prime Minister, Abdul Tawab Mulla Huweish, on the same matter.[350]

iii)  A meeting, of which he says Fawaz told him, with the Minster of Oil, following which the Minister made an appointment for Fawaz with the State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO), which initiated Fawaz's dealings with SOMO.[351]

216. Mr Tony Zureikat also said that he was present when Mr Galloway returned from his meeting with former President Saddam Hussein on 8 August 2002. He heard Mr Galloway inform Mr Fawaz Zureikat,

"We got one and lost one."

Mr Tony Zureikat understood from the conversation that a request by Mr Galloway for additional allocations under the OFF Programme had been refused by the President but he had agreed to a request for financial support for their planned Arab TV station.[352]

217. As to how the money allegedly earned in commission and contracts by his cousin and Mr Galloway was disposed of, Mr Tony Zureikat said that in addition to banking transfers made by his cousin, Fawaz, to the Mariam Appeal and Dr Abu-Zayyad, cash payments were made to Dr Abu-Zayyad.[353] Fawaz would also take substantial sums in cash when meeting Mr Galloway, in Morocco, Portugal or on one occasion in Lebanon.[354]In Mr Tony Zureikat's view, the Mariam Appeal provided both a business opportunity for Mr Galloway and his (Tony's) cousin, Fawaz, and a reason for Mr Galloway to make repeated visits to Iraq.[355]

218. Tony Zureikat asserted that immediately prior to the outbreak of war in 2003, Mr Galloway and Fawaz were negotiating a series of deals with British companies for the sale of goods to Iraq. When asked whether one of the products in question was fire engines, Tony Zureikat said that he recalled that this was so.[356] Mr Halford referred in his evidence to Fawaz Zureikat developing a deal with the fire engine manufacturers, Denis.[357] In the event, because of the war, these allegedly planned deals fell through.

219. When I asked Mr Tony Zureikat why he had provided the evidence he had given me against Mr Galloway and his cousin, he accepted that his relations with Fawaz had broken down, partly over a business dispute.[358] He denied however, that he was motivated by anything other than a wish to expose what he regarded as Mr Galloway's duplicity.[359]

(ii) Mr Galloway's response

220. In his letter of 1 November 2006,[360] Mr Galloway condemned Mr Tony Zureikat's evidence as "a malevolent and fantastical concoction". In that letter and subsequent correspondence, and during my interview with him on 30 November 2006, Mr Galloway criticized the evidence on the following principal grounds:

a)  Mr Tony Zureikat was "wanted for forgery, deception, fraud and theft in Jordan".[361] In a subsequent letter dated 11 May 2007, Mr Galloway amended this assertion, saying that while Mr Zureikat might not yet have been convicted by the Jordanian authorities, he was accused of fraud by certain traders and a bank in Jordan.[362]

b)  Mr Zureikat's evidence lacked credibility because it was demonstrably wrong in certain respects. For example, Mr Zureikat claimed that on a car journey they had shared with others from Amman to Baghdad in October 2001, Mr Galloway and some of his fellow travelers had been drinking whisky, whereas Mr Galloway is well known to be teetotal. Nor could Dr Abu-Zayyad have travelled from Palestine through Jordan to Lebanon to deposit there cash supplied by Fawaz Zureikat, as Tony Zureikat alleged.

c)  Mr Zureikat had claimed that his cousin Fawaz, had met Mr Galloway "very often" in Morocco, taking large sums in cash with him. Mr Galloway's passport would show that he did not travel to Morocco very often. He had never met Fawaz Zureikat there, "nor ever been in Morocco at the same time as him".[363]Indeed Mr Fawaz Zureikat had never himself visited Morocco.[364]

d)  Mr Galloway had never met Ahmed Al-Shanti, with whom Tony Zureikat claimed Mr Galloway had had a meeting with the then Iraqi Minister of Agriculture in October 2001.[365] Nor had Mr Galloway ever visited the Iraqi Oil Ministry or ever met any Iraqi Oil Ministers.[366]

e)  The facsimile documents supplied by Mr Tony Zureikat in support of his allegations were of no value. In particular, his cousin, Fawaz, denied writing the manuscript note referred to at para 215 (i) above.[367]

221. In his letter of 1 November 2006,[368] Mr Galloway concluded:

"This entire witness statement is a farrago of lies and inventions … There appears to be not one corroborative document or supporting fact to Zureikat's bilious attack."

222. During my interview with Mr Galloway on 30 November 2006, he repeated these criticisms.[369] In response to my questions, Mr Galloway said that he had met Tony Zureikat "once, but maybe twice and both times in the office of Mr Fawaz Zureikat" in Baghdad.[370] He could not recall the precise dates of these meetings, but he had certainly not traveled with Mr Tony Zureikat to Baghdad in October 2001.[371] He could state unequivocally that he had never met any Minister for Oil in Iraq.[372] He might have met the Iraqi Minister of Agriculture in passing but he had certainly not done any business with him, nor had he met him in the company of Fawaz Zureikat.[373] When I put to Mr Galloway the documentary evidence provided by Mr Tony Zureikat to which I have referred at paragraph 209 above, Mr Galloway said that if the documents were authentic, "then it may well be that these people are reminding the Minister that Zureikat was in my company in Iraq…".[374] He went on:

"In Iraq, it is very clear now to me, and since we last met it is clearer than ever, that there were people all over the place using their proximity to me, or even an invented proximity to me, in order to assist themselves in their business."[375]

223. Summing up his response on that occasion to Mr Tony Zureikat's evidence, Mr Galloway said:

"He is politically motivated, he is financially motivated and he is familially motivated … it is clear that he is determined to play a role in damaging both his cousin and I. He is a reprobate and a liar …"[376]

(iii) Other Material relating to Mr Tony Zureikat's Evidence

224. Following my second interview with Mr Galloway, I attempted to check the various points he had made in relation to Mr Tony Zureikat's evidence, with the following results:

a)  Enquiries I have made through official channels have produced no evidence to support Mr Galloway's assertion that Tony Zureikat is wanted on criminal charges in Jordan. Since he is resident there, the Jordanian authorities would have no difficulty arresting him at any time should they wish to do so.

b)  Mr Galloway has sent me photocopies of pages drawn from his passport between September 2001 and 2006. There is evidence from these of only one trip by Mr Galloway in that period to Morocco, in addition to the visit he paid in September 1999 when accompanying the Big Ben to Baghdad bus.

This visit to Morocco was undertaken in November 2002. Mr Galloway arrived on 29 November 2002 and left the following 1 December. In my interview with him on 20 December 2005, Mr Zureikat referred in particular to one visit by his cousin, Fawaz, to Morocco when Mr Galloway was there, which he said took place in "2002. The end of 2002".[377]

c)  During the interview, Mr Galloway asked whether the two tenders mentioned in the copy documents provided by Mr Tony Zureikat which I had given to Mr Galloway had been filed under the UN Sanctions Committee.[378] The two tenders related to:

i)  Al-Alameya Company for Plastic Industries—tender No/37/2001, and

ii)  Al-Yamamah Company (insecticides/pesticides)—tender invitation no AG.CH/4/2001

A subsequent search of UN databases produced the following documents appearing to relate to the two tenders:

a. Al-Alameya (tender M/37/2001):

i. A letter (dated 6 October 2001) from the company providing technical details in support of the company's quotation.

ii. A contract (no M/743/2001) dated 29 November 2001 for the supply of solid sprinkler irrigation systems by the company to the Iraqi State Company for Agricultural Supplies.

b. Al-Yamamah (tender AG.CH/4/2001):

i. A contract (numbered 1002238) between the company and the Iraqi Ministry for Agriculture for the supply of pesticides. The contract is for the supply of Paraquat.

ii. A second contract between the company and the Ministry dated 6 May 2002 and numbered 1002239, for the supply of Trifluralin.

225. I also put Mr Galloway's key criticisms to Mr Zureikat. Mr Zureikat provided a certified translation of a document from the Jordanian Ministry of Justice saying that he had not been convicted on criminal charges in Jordan. He said that during the car journey from Amman to Baghdad in October 2001 to which he had referred, he had been seated in the passenger seat next to the driver. He knew that a bottle of whisky had been opened; he did not know for certain that Mr Galloway had drunk from it. He was certain that on 2 occasions in 2002 while he had himself been working with his cousin, Fawaz, Dr Abu Zayyad's brother (at that time an employee of Fawaz) had asked him to help him rent a car to pick her up from the bridge connecting Jordan and the West Bank. It was in any event perfectly possible for a person, for example with two passports, to travel with ease between the Israeli-controlled West Bank and Arab countries hostile to Israel. For the rest, he stood by his evidence.

226. Mr Galloway repeated many of his previous criticisms of Mr Tony Zureikat's evidence in his letter commenting on the factual sections of this report.[379] He also added some new material, which he said was fatal to Mr Zureikat's evidence. This related, in particular, to an error in Mr Zureikat's witness statement as to the timing of Mr Galloway's meeting with Saddam Hussein on 8 August 2002,[380] and to Mr Galloway's destination after that meeting.[381] Mr Galloway also gave details of the financing of his properties, which he said rebutted Mr Tony Zureikat's claim that his financial circumstances had been transformed after he had met Fawaz Zureikat.[382]

(F) MR GALLOWAY'S MEETING WITH SADDAM HUSSEIN ON 8 AUGUST 2002

227. In August 2002, Mr Galloway met Saddam Hussein for only the second (and final) time.[383] Mr Galloway subsequently gave an account of the meeting in the Mail on Sunday, by which he was employed as a regular contributor, and also wrote about it in his book I'm Not the Only One.[384]

228. In 2006 I became aware that it was possible that a record existed, made of the meeting by the then Iraqi regime. I began inquiries to see if I could obtain a copy.

229. In November 2006, I obtained what purported to be a copy of the meeting record. The text has been authenticated by the present Iraqi Government. It had been seized with many other documents following the fall of Baghdad. I arranged for it to be independently translated.[385]

230. The document was covered by a memorandum dated 13 August 2002 from the then Iraqi President's Press Secretary, saying that at the meeting of the Iraqi Council of Ministers on that day, the President had ordered that the minutes of the meeting between himself and Mr Galloway on 8 August be distributed to "the comrades in the Iraqi State Command of the Socialist Arab Ba'ath Party and to the Ministers". It appeared from the memorandum that 30 copies of the minutes had been so distributed.

231. The minutes recorded the attendance at the meeting as having consisted of:

President Saddam Hussein

Mr George Galloway

Mr Tariq Aziz, Deputy Iraqi Prime Minister

Dr Naji Sabri Ahmed, Iraqi Foreign Minister

In addition, according to the written record, there had attended from the office of the President:

Lt Gen Abd Hamid Mahmoud, Secretary to the President

Mr Ali Abdullah Salman, Press Secretary to the President

232. As can be seen from the translation of the minutes, [386]the bulk of the discussion at the meeting, according to the record, concerned a critique of the British Government's support of the United States Government in its opposition to the policies of the then Iraqi regime. According to the text, Mr Galloway spoke optimistically of the growing opposition within Britain to the UK Government's stance.

233. Towards the conclusion of the record, Mr Galloway referred to discussions he had had with the then Iraqi Minister of Information, Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahhaf, about the establishment of an English language Iraqi satellite TV channel. He offered to co-operate in establishing the channel by providing staff and journalists. According to the record, the then President agreed that such a channel was important and, addressing Mr Tariq Aziz, urged its early establishment, taking advantage of Mr Galloway's offer.

234. The record continues with remarks attributed to Mr Galloway as follows:

"Thank you very much Mr President. Finally, may I say that our work has been going on for years and I believe that Your Excellency is aware of the results which we have achieved. Mr Tariq Aziz has helped us with his contacts and has used his influence to facilitate our job and facilitate the mechanism by which we have been able to obtain the funding necessary to finance our activities. But, we are now suffering from the problem of the price of oil which has resulted in a reduction in our income and delay in receiving our dues.

"At the end of the meeting the President, the Leader bade farewell to his guest in the most beautiful expressions of goodwill and esteem."

235. I received the translation I commissioned of this document two days before my scheduled interview with Mr Galloway on 30 November 2006. I was therefore able to put the matter to Mr Galloway at that meeting.[387]

236. Mr Galloway's immediate response was:

"This is fraudulent; no such words ever crossed my lips."[388]

He continued:

"The idea that I discussed funding and oil is ridiculous and has been fabricated after the event."[389]

Mr Galloway acknowledged that he had discussed the project for an Arab television channel with the then Iraqi Minister for Information, but denied that he had done so with Saddam Hussein.[390]

237. During our interview and in subsequent correspondence—particularly in his letters of 5 March and 11 May 2007[391]—Mr Galloway developed his criticisms of the alleged record of his meeting with Saddam Hussein as follows:

a)  According to his account, the meeting had been in two parts. Initially he had met the former President along with 30 or 40 other people.[392] There had then been a smaller gathering, at which were present Mr Tariq Aziz and Mr Naji Sabri (then Iraqi Foreign Minister), in addition to himself and Saddam Hussein. No one else had attended.

b)  Mr Galloway referred me to a report in the Times of 12 November 2003[393] of the publication of a book of memoirs by the former President's personal translator for English and French, Mr Saman Abdul Majid, which, he said, made clear "by omission that no such discussion took place in his presence" and "explains that everyone was dismissed from the private part of the meeting with the exceptions I have already explained to you". In his letter of 5 March,[394] Mr Galloway said that he had met the translator in Doha "recently … [who] confirmed to me the statements he made in the book".

the Times article says:

"… There was, however, a mystery about the session. The interpreter was sent out of the room for 15 minutes while Mr Galloway conferred with Saddam and Tariq Aziz, the Deputy Prime Minister. Mr Majid has never been told what the three men discussed."[395]

c)  The Times report does not refer to Mr Sabri's presence at the meeting. However, Mr Galloway says that on the same recent visit he made to Doha, he also spoke with Mr Sabri, who confirmed Mr Galloway's account as to who was present at the meeting.

d)  Mr Galloway asserts that there was therefore no one present at the small meeting who wrote a minute of it. Nor was any press secretary present, "… and in any case without the translator his presence would have been otiose."[396]

e)  Mr Galloway concludes that the bulk of the "minute" of the meeting is a bowdlerized and in some respects inaccurate version of the various accounts Mr Galloway has himself given of that meeting.

238. As well as these criticisms based on the substance of the document, Mr Galloway has questioned its provenance and asked why it had not surfaced earlier at the time of either the IIC or US Senate investigations.

239. In assessing the document, it is relevant also to take the following into account:

a)  The information available to me is that the written record of the meeting was among many documents seized following the fall of Baghdad.

b)  It has been authenticated by the present Iraqi Government. Mr Galloway dismisses such authentication as worthless.[397]

c)  Those whom Mr Galloway quotes in support of his account of the meeting—Mr Tariq Aziz, Naji Sabri and the former President's personal translator—would, it seems likely, be regarded as equally untrustworthy or partial witnesses by critics of the former Iraqi regime.

d)  Mr Majid's account, as reported by the Times, only corroborates Mr Galloway's claim that there was a second, smaller gathering at which the translator was not present. It does not cast light on what was said at that meeting.

e)  In his account of the event in the Mail on Sunday of 11 August 2002, Mr Galloway specifically mentions the President's secretary as having been present at the meeting. He says on this point:

"His secretary, a military officer in khaki, looks big and tough enough without having to use the pearl-handled revolver in his holster."

In his letter of 11 May 2007, Mr Galloway said that this officer had only been present in the first part of the meeting.[398]

f)  If the written record was, as Mr Galloway alleges in his letter of 30 March,[399] simply fabricated on the basis of accounts he has himself given of the meeting, it may be thought odd that it is, according to Mr Galloway, inaccurate in some respects—for example in relation to its reference to his Irish grandfather as his father and to its "mangling" of Saddam Hussein's tale about World War II leaders. In his letter of 11 May 2007, Mr Galloway describes this, however, as an "Alice through the Looking Glass argument".[400]

g)  The account of the meeting is consistent with the evidence given by Mr Tony Zureikat of what Mr Galloway said to his cousin Fawaz Zureikat, immediately after the meeting had occurred,[401] to the extent that:

i)  The "minute" records a discussion both of plans for an English language television station and of funding of Mr Galloway's activities with the assistance of Mr Tariq Aziz, including through oil contracts.

ii)  Mr Tony Zureikat says that Mr Galloway said after the meeting:

"We got one and lost one."

His evidence continues:

"They got the approval on the TV station but refusal on the increased oil share."[402]

The "minute" records the then President as encouraging Mr Aziz to establish the TV station "taking advantage of the idea of bringing British technicians and journalists as suggested by Mr Galloway".[403]

The "minute" is silent as to any response by the President to Mr Galloway's recorded remarks about the price of oil and the effects of this on the funding available to him.

240. As to how the purported written record of the meeting came to be created, one possibility is that it was taped or that in some other way the meeting was not as 'private' as Mr Galloway assumed it to be. However, this is simply a possibility: I have no direct evidence available to me on this point.[404] As to Mr Galloway's question as to why the record only surfaced last year, after the IIC and US Senate investigations had reported, I understand that neither body was aware of the record at the time their reports were issued in the autumn of 2005.

(G) MR GALLOWAY'S RESPONSE TO THE PRECEDING EVIDENCE

241. I have already set out Mr Galloway's detailed critique of much of the preceding evidence. It can be summarised as resting on the arguments that:

242. More generally, Mr Galloway denies ever himself soliciting funds from the former Iraqi regime and also denies knowing how Mr Fawaz Zureikat and others who contributed to the Mariam Appeal came by the money they donated. He also denies being under any responsibility to know from where the money donated to the Appeal derived. During our interview on 30 November 2006, I asked Mr Galloway:

"Do you accept that if taken together the Independent Inquiry Committee and the Senate report provide strong documented evidence that money from the Oil for Food Programme was channeled to the Mariam Appeal?"

Mr Galloway replied:

"Fawaz Zureikat made donations from his personal funds to the Mariam Appeal. How he made them is a matter for him, not me. There was no cheque from the Oil for Food Programme, he would hardly have done so. I am not in a position to know how the donors made their money, part of which they donated to our campaign; it was not my business to do so."[405]

243. Later in the same interview, Mr Galloway said that Mr Fawaz Zureikat had given "the money from his personal funds … funds which belonged to him. That is all that matters to me. I was only interested in raising the funds. It was not for me to enquire of the three principal donors how they made their money".[406] He had known that Mr Zureikat had extensive business interests in Iraq but not (at that time) specifically that he was doing oil business.[407]

244. He justified his approach in terms of the essentially unpretty nature, as he saw it, of political fundraising, and the important of the Appeal's objectives:

"It is not a pretty business raising money for political purposes. In this case, the political purpose was so vital, so life and death vital, that I was only glad that there was somebody somewhere who was prepared to give us that."[408]

245. Mr Galloway has also argued that:

"… the Oil for Food Programme was administered by the United Nations, and all those who traded with Iraq through the programme did so legally."[409]

In recent correspondence he has continued to refer to the programme as "a legal, UN mechanism", with the implication that any moneys raised by or through it or income derived from it must have been obtained lawfully.[410]

Mr Galloway's View of the Inquiry

246. If I am to give a complete account of the material I have received from Mr Galloway in connection with the complaints against him, it will be appropriate to describe briefly the criticisms he has made of my inquiry throughout its protracted course.

247. From the outset, Mr Galloway has regarded the inquiry as politically motivated. While initially he excepted my own part in it from his general criticisms, he has all along portrayed the Committee on Standards and Privileges as a politicised tribunal. In an initial e-mail to me on 29 April 2003, confirming that he had begun libel proceedings against the Daily Telegraph and the Christian Science Monitor, Mr Galloway suggested that any consideration of these matters by me "would be prejudicial and politically motivated". He concluded:

"I do hope you will not allow my political enemies to create a parallel kangaroo court."[411]

248. In his letter to me of 30 April 2003,[412] Mr Galloway said:

"I am sure that you are an absolutely impartial person …"

but continued

"… the Committee is not."

As my written exchanges with Mr Galloway appended to this report indicate, this has been a running assertion by Mr Galloway throughout my investigation. No assurances I have given him—for example, relating to the changes in the Committee's composition approved by the House in its response to the Eighth Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life (Cm 5663)—have persuaded him otherwise.[413]

249. Mr Galloway has also consistently made two other criticisms of the process:

a)  That developments in relation to my inquiry were leaked to the media by Committee members—see, for example, his letters of 13 May 2003[414] and 29 August 2003.[415]

It is apparently the case that some early developments in relation to my inquiry first came to Mr Galloway's notice through contact with the media. There has, however, been no clear indication as to what prompted the media approaches and there has been no recent repetition of this experience in spite of the extensive and protracted nature of my investigation.

b)  That he is, in effect being asked to prove his innocence of the allegations against him—this criticism first surfaced in his letter of 19 November 2003,[416] and has been repeated at intervals since.[417]

In response, I have made clear to Mr Galloway that all he has been asked to do throughout my inquiry has been to respond truthfully to the questions I have put to him and to assist me in establishing the truth by honestly recounting what he knows in relation to the complaints against him.

250. Following the Committee's report on the registration of the Legal Fund established by Mr Galloway to assist him in relation to the costs of his libel action against Telegraph Group Limited,[418] Mr Galloway's criticisms have also included aspects of my own conduct of the inquiry. Specifically he has criticized:

a)  My decision to ask the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to deliver for me a letter to Mr Tariq Aziz's lawyer in Baghdad inviting Mr Aziz to give evidence to my inquiry. Mr Galloway asserted that it was wrong of me—on constitutional grounds and because, as an arm of the Government, the Department was likely to be biased against him—to involve the FCO in this way, and that British officials had offered Mr Aziz immunity from prosecution on any charges arising from the oil for food scandal as an inducement to testify to me.[419]

The only request I made of the FCO in this connection was that they arrange delivery of my letter to Mr Aziz's lawyer. FCO officials have assured me that no inducement of any kind was offered either to Mr Aziz or to his lawyer.[420]

b)  My request that he disclose to me the nature of "future revelations" he said he proposed to make, and the name of the senior British journalist referred to by him, during his speech in the Adjournment Debate on 8 May 2006.

Mr Galloway has repeatedly declined my request to name the journalist concerned and in his letter of 20 October 2006[421] said that he had no intention of returning in the House to the matter of the complaints against him.

251. In both the respects covered in the preceding paragraph, Mr Galloway has claimed that my inquiries have raised deep constitutional issues. He has argued that this is so in so far as I, a Parliamentary official, sought the assistance of a Government Department in connection with an aspect of my inquiry[422] and also asked Mr Galloway questions relating to a speech he had made (and possible speeches he had indicated he intended to make) in the House. In connection with the latter, Mr Galloway wrote to Mr Speaker, on 11 September 2006, seeking a meeting with Mr Speaker.[423] A copy of Mr Speaker's reply—declining to intervene—is appended.[424]

252. As my inquiries have neared their conclusion, Mr Galloway's allegations and assertions about my inquiry have become more intense and wide-ranging. They have included:

a)  The claim that I have widened the terms of reference of my inquiry to embrace the activities of those close to him in ways which are beyond my powers, whilst declining to investigate the provenance of the Christian Science Monitor documents (see paragraphs 14-15 above).

The genesis of this argument can be found in Mr Galloway's letter of 15 January 2007 responding to mine of 10 January 2007.[425] The claim, which is constantly repeated in Mr Galloway's subsequent letters, in my view has no basis in fact, as I believe any impartial reading of the correspondence will show. As I put it in my letter of 14 February 2007 to Mr Galloway:[426]

"the scope of my inquiry … is set by the terms of the Code of Conduct and the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members approved by the House. My own remit is determined by Standing Order 150 of the House.

"Mr Robathan's complaint initiated my inquiry. My duty is to establish whether, in relation to the circumstances connected with that complaint, i.e. arising from the allegations in the documents published by the Daily Telegraph in April 2003, your conduct has been in breach, in any respect, of the Code and the Rules of the House."

The activities of people close to Mr Galloway have been relevant to my inquiries in so far as they have helped me to assess Mr Galloway's own conduct and motives. Indeed Mr Galloway appears himself to accept the relevance of such matters in his letter to me of 8 May 2007.[427] I have not investigated the provenance of the Christian Science Monitor documents because they did not form part of Mr Robathan's complaint and I cannot see what useful light conducting such an investigation would shed, one way or the other, on the Telegraph documents.

b)  A related allegation that I have told Mr Galloway that he will get to know the terms of my inquiry only after it has been completed.[428] This is in my view based on a very partial and inaccurate reading of my letter of 18 January 2007.[429] For my response, see my letter of 14 February 2007 to Mr Galloway.[430]

c)  An assertion—begun by Mr Galloway in his letter of 31 January and repeated in that of 5 March 2007, in spite of my denial in my letter of 14 February 2007[431]—that agents of the British Government have interrogated Mr Tariq Aziz on my behalf and that I "must have access to the notes and statements".

253. At the conclusion of his letter of 5 March 2007,[432] Mr Galloway sums up his criticism of the Committee and my inquiry as being, in effect, part of "an attempted political assassination" in the face of his continued stand in opposition to "the disastrous story of sanctions, war and occupation in Iraq".

254. There is one other aspect of Mr Galloway's response to the inquiry which I believe it appropriate to mention. Perhaps because of his fundamental reservations about its nature, on a considerable number of occasions, there have been substantial lapses of time before Mr Galloway has responded to my inquiries.[433] All our written exchanges of substance are reproduced in Volume II.[434]

Closing Comments by Mr Galloway

255. In accordance with the procedures agreed by the House, I sent Mr Galloway a draft of the factual sections of this report—including the summary of evidence in relation to the key issues which follows—on 27 April 2007. Mr Galloway provided a lengthy reply dated 11 May.[435]

256. Mr Galloway did not, for the most part, comment in detail on the way I had set out the factual material. He focused, first on the statement in paragraph 281 below that I had not found evidence during my inquiry that he had, directly and personally, unlawfully received monies derived from the former Iraqi regime, saying that this should be my "definitive refutation" of Mr Robathan's complaint. He went on to say that the draft was:

"… laden with smear and innuendo which the media will be able to report freely, protected by you".[436]

I had a duty, he argued, to allow into the report only that which could be corroborated or proved.

257. In justification of his argument, Mr Galloway said that I had relied on three sets of evidence, none of which he contested could pass a legal test: the evidence of Mr Halford, and of Mr Tony Zureikat and the purported record of Mr Galloway's meeting on 8 August 2002 with Saddam Hussein. He proceeded to seek to undermine each of these pieces of evidence.

258. Much of the argument Mr Galloway deployed in this request was not new, though some new factual material was embedded in it. I have sought, where appropriate, to include this material at relevant points earlier in this report. For Mr Galloway's argument as a whole, it is desirable to read Volume II, PCS Written Evidence 116 in its entirety.

259. I responded to Mr Galloway on 30 May 2007, briefly pointing out that his letter appeared to reflect some confusion between the factual sections of my report and my conclusions. Many of his comments were more directed to the conclusions I should draw from the evidence and the recommendations I should therefore make to the Committee. I would of course take his comments carefully into account, alongside all the other evidence before finalising the concluding sections of my report. Readers of this report in full, including Mr Galloway, will see that, in fact, my conclusions rely very little on any of the three pieces of evidence which Mr Galloway so criticises.

Summary of Evidence in relation to the Key Issues

260. Although some of the key evidence relating to the complaint against Mr Galloway is strongly disputed—indeed flatly denied—by him, other evidence is not. In the following paragraphs I summarise the evidence by reference to the questions I set out in paragraph 43 of this report, identifying where there is agreement and where there is not.

(A) THE TELEGRAPH DOCUMENTS

(I) ARE THEY AUTHENTIC?

261. The authenticity of the documents is strongly disputed. First there is an argument over their provenance. Mr David Blair says that he found all of them in the burnt-out former Foreign Ministry building in Baghdad, in the circumstances reported in the Daily Telegraph and repeated in his evidence to me (for an account of which see paragraphs 45-57 above). He gave sworn evidence to the same effect in the libel proceedings brought by Mr Galloway against Telegraph Group Limited, evidence which was supported by that given in the same proceedings by the Telegraph photographer, Mr Heathcliff O'Malley and by Mr A, the Iraqi translator who, according to his evidence, was present when Mr Blair found the documents and subsequently assisted in translating them.

262. Mr Galloway denies that the documents were found in the circumstances described by Mr Blair. During an Adjournment Debate on 8 May 2006, he said that the 'second set' of documents (those published on 23 April 2003) had been given separately to Mr Blair and had not been found by Mr Blair as he claimed.[437] In subsequent evidence to me, Mr Galloway went further, asserting that if the second set of documents allegedly found by Mr Blair had in fact been given to him, it was likely that all the documents had.[438]

263. Mr Galloway's grounds for making this claim are a conversation he says he had in July 2003 with a senior journalist, whose identify he has declined to reveal. Mr Galloway's friend, Mr Ron McKay, says he also was present at that meeting,[439] the substance of which was subsequently recorded in an e-mail Mr Galloway sent his legal adviser.[440] The legal adviser has confirmed contemporaneously receiving that e-mail.

264. Mr Blair strongly denies the contents of that e-mail, and is supported in his denial by Mr Philip Sherwell, whom Mr Galloway also named in the Adjournment Debate.[441]

265. Setting aside the question how the documents were found, are they likely to be authentic? Mr Galloway argues that they are fakes or forgeries, as other documents referring to him which surfaced after the fall of Baghdad in 2003 proved, on forensic examination, to be.[442] They are, he says, "merely pieces of paper with my name written on them".[443] He also argues that, since the key documents published in the Daily Telegraph are photocopies, they are not capable of forensic analysis.

266. The forensic analysis of all the papers obtained by Mr Blair conducted by Mr Thorne at my request concluded, however, that the vast majority of them were authentic.[444] Mr Thorne also found "a high probability that all the disputed Telegraph documents are also authentic". He found "no evidence that they are forgeries or altered", and considered this possibility to be "extremely unlikely". Further he found no evidence to suggest that any of the disputed Telegraph documents were found at a different time and place to the others.

267. In assessing the likely authenticity of the key Telegraph documents, it needs also to be borne in mind that the authenticity of a number of other papers obtained by Mr Blair along with them has been confirmed by their authors. I have set out the nature of these documents in paragraphs 84-87 above. Two of them were authored by Mr Galloway himself:

a)  His undated letter nominating Mr Fawaz Zureikat as his representative in Baghdad on all matters concerning his work with the Mariam Appeal or the Emergency Committee in Iraq;

b)  His original letter of 21 December 2000 announcing the intention of the Great Britain-Iraq Society to set up a body to promote trade between Great Britain and Iraq.

In the course of my inquiry, Mr Galloway has accepted the authenticity of both these documents.[445]

268. I should also record that the authenticity of the key Telegraph documents has been confirmed by the current Iraqi Government.[446] Mr Galloway says that since that Government consists of his political enemies, this confirmation is worthless.[447]

(II) ARE THE DOCUMENTS CREDIBLE HAVING REGARD TO THE TOTALITY OF THE EVIDENCE?

269. However the documents were obtained and whether or not they are authentic, are they credible having regard to the totality of the evidence?

270. An answer to this question must rest on an assessment of all the evidence assembled in this report. I have set out in paragraphs 186-195 above ways in which the evidence uncovered by my inquiries and those undertaken by the IIC and the US Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations corroborates at a number of points the information contained in the key documents published by the Daily Telegraph. Also relevant is my analysis of the evidence relating to Mr Galloway's alleged "programme of work" in paragraphs 192-201 above,

271. Mr Galloway says that whatever the provenance of the Telegraph documents and whether or not they are authentic (both of which, as I have just described, he disputes), they are in any event false. As he put the matter in his letter to me of 5 March 2007:[448]

"Whatever the provenance of these documents, which are in any case photocopies, the contents of them are false. I am not in a position to know who wrote them or when or why. They may all or in part be forgeries; they may all or in part reflect some corruption within the former Iraqi regime—corruption widely acknowledged; they may all or in part reflect the use of my name without my knowledge or benefit by other people. In any case the claims made in them are entirely untrue."

(B) WHAT WAS THE NATURE OF THE MARIAM APPEAL AND OF THE ROLES OF MR GALLOWAY AND MR FAWAZ ZUREIKAT IN RELATION TO IT?

272. Although Mr Galloway, and others associated with the Appeal, such as Mr Sabah Al-Mukhtar, dispute the Charity Commission's finding that the Mariam Appeal was a charity[449] and there is a conflict of evidence in relation to certain aspects of the running of the Appeal (which are not, however, central to my inquiry),[450] there is I believe no dispute as to the essential facts concerning the nature of the Appeal or the roles of Mr Galloway and Mr Zureikat in relation to it.

273. Although the Appeal initially focused on the plight of Mariam Hamza, it was, in Mr Galloway's words, essentially "a political campaign", in opposition to the British Government's policy of sanctions on Iraq.[451] This view of its nature was shared by all those I have interviewed who were involved in the Appeal.[452] It is borne out by the activities and the pattern of expenditure of the Appeal.[453]

274. As to the roles of Mr Galloway and Mr Fawaz Zureikat within the Appeal, Mr Galloway was the Appeal's founder and, for a period thereafter, its chairman.[454] After a few weeks during which Mr Halford was chairman, Mr Zureikat took on that role.[455] Whatever their nominal or titular positions, however, it is clear from the evidence that:

a)  Mr Galloway was throughout the one who effectively directed the Appeal's activities, as Mr Galloway has himself acknowledged;[456]

b)  Mr Zureikat was the second highest donor to the Appeal. His first donation was made in August 2000 and from that point he was the person who effectively funded the Appeal until its conclusion in 2002.[457]

275. There is disputed evidence about what happened to the records of the Appeal, which in evidence to the Charity Commission, it was said had been transferred to Jordan and Baghdad when Mr Zureikat assumed the chairmanship of the Appeal. I have set out the nature of this dispute in paragraphs 146-149 above.

276. It is not disputed by Mr Galloway that his Parliamentary staff and Parliamentary office were used in support of the Appeal. However, he does dispute that this use was extensive or in any way improper. It was, he argues "common practice in political campaigns run by Members of Parliament".[458]

(C) DID MR GALLOWAY DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY THROUGH HIS APPOINTED REPRESENTATIVE IN BAGHDAD, MR FAWAZ ZUREIKAT, GAIN ANY BENEFIT FROM MONEY DERIVED, EITHER THROUGH THE OIL FOR FOOD PROGRAMME OR BY OTHER MEANS, FROM THE FORMER IRAQI REGIME?

277. The report of the Independent Inquiry Committee (IIC) into the UN Oil for Food Programme, the relevant contents of which I have described in paragraphs 167-174 above, provides clear evidence that in Phases VIII through XIII of the OFF Programme, a total of over 18 million barrels of oil were allocated either directly in the name of Mr Galloway or of Mr Fawaz Zureikat. Mr Zureikat received commissions for handling the sale of approximately 11 million barrels allocated in Mr Galloway's name. Mr Zureikat's company also benefited extensively from contracts for the supply of humanitarian goods under the Programme.

278. Evidence assembled by the IIC and by the US Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations, which I have set out in paragraphs 186-187 above, shows that moneys derived directly from commission payments received by Mr Zureikat under the Programme were donated by Mr Zureikat to the Mariam Appeal.

279. Mr Galloway has consistently denied that either he or the Mariam Appeal have benefited from funds deriving through the Oil for Food Programme from the former regime in Iraq. In respect of the Appeal, he said during our interview on 30 November 2006:[459]

"The money came from Zureikat, it did not come from the Oil-for-Food Programme. I suspect you may well say he earned his money through his business dealings with the Oil-for-Food Programme, but it is not as true as you think it is. He gave us the money from his personal funds. They did not belong to anyone else's fund, but funds which belonged to him. That is all that matters to me."

280. I have been given evidence by Dr Al-Chalabi of the payment by him of a sum of $120,000 to Dr Amineh Abu-Zayyad, Mr Galloway's former wife, which derived from a commission payment Dr Al-Chalabi received in relation to a contract under Phase VII of the Oil for Food Programme.[460] The US Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations also found evidence of a later payment of a sum of $150,000 to Dr Abu-Zayyad by Mr Fawaz Zureikat, which derived from commission received by Mr Zureikat on a contract under Phase VIII of the Programme.[461] Mr Galloway has consistently denied any knowledge of these payments.[462]

281. Subject to what I have said in the previous paragraph, I have not found evidence during my inquiry that Mr Galloway has, directly and personally, unlawfully received moneys derived from the former Iraqi regime, either via the Oil for Food Programme or by some other means. I should add here that I have not pressed for access to bank accounts held either solely by Mr Galloway or jointly by him with others. I have not done this primarily because I believe that embarking on such action could take me into matters more properly within the jurisdiction of other agencies, and it has not been necessary for me to do so in order to assess whether Mr Galloway has complied with his obligations under the Code of Conduct.

(D) DID MR GALLOWAY KNOW THAT HE WAS RECEIVING SUPPORT, EITHER PERSONALLY OR FOR HIS ACTIVITIES IN RELATION TO THE MARIAM APPEAL, FROM THE FORMER IRAQI REGIME, OR WAS HE RECKLESS OR NEGLIGENT IN RELATION TO THE RECEIPT OF SUCH SUPPORT?

282. Given what I have said in paragraph 281, this question can be re-stated:

"Did Mr Galloway know that he was receiving support for his activities in relation to the Mariam Appeal from the former Iraqi regime, or was he reckless or negligent in relation to the receipt of such support?

I have set out in paragraphs 192-245 above both the evidence I have received which appears to support an affirmative answer to this question and Mr Galloway's rebuttal of it. As with the question as to the credibility of the key Telegraph documents (see paragraphs 269-270), an answer to this question depends on an assessment of the evidence set out in this report as a whole.

283. Mr Galloway is particularly critical of:

a)  The evidence of Mr Tony Zureikat—which he dismisses as "a malevolent and fantastical concoction".[463] In some respects, Mr Tony Zureikat's evidence does appear questionable, for example in relation to what he says about Mr Galloway's consumption of alcohol. On the other hand, his evidence is consistent with some evidence from other sources and is corroborated by documentary evidence from UN sources. I have found nothing to support Mr Galloway's assertion that the evidence is unreliable because Mr Tony Zureikat is wanted for serious offences in Jordan.[464]

b)  The alleged record of Mr Galloway's meeting with Saddam Hussein on 8 August 2002—what is undisputed is the fact that the meeting took place and that it ended with a restricted session at which Mr Galloway and a small number only were present. Mr Galloway is adamant, however, that the alleged record is a fabrication. He dismisses the present Iraqi Government's authentication of the record on the same grounds as he dismisses its authentication of the key Telegraph documents (paragraph 257 above).

284. More generally, Mr Galloway says that he neither himself solicited support from the former Iraqi regime nor knew how Mr Fawaz Zureikat and others who contributed to the Mariam Appeal came by the money donated. Nor, he says, was he under any obligation to know from where the money donated to the Appeal derived.[465]

Conclusions

285. In the concluding sections of my report I deal, first, with two procedural issues before giving my own assessment of the evidence I have gathered, with reference to the key questions I set out in paragraph 43 above. I then discuss whether, in the light of that assessment, Mr Galloway has complied with his obligations as a Member under the Code of Conduct and Rules of the House.

THE STANDARD OF PROOF

286. The standard of proof I apply is that of the balance of probabilities, to which I referred in paragraph 44. In its Second Report of Session 2000-01, when considering a complaint in which alleged misuse of Parliamentary allowances was a major issue, the Committee on Standards and Privileges said:

"The courts have interpreted the concept of balance of probabilities to require a higher standard of proof in serious cases. A case such as this has serious implications for holders of public office. Accordingly we have concluded that we should need to be persuaded that these allegations were significantly more likely to be true than not to be true before we could properly uphold them."[466]

The Committee and I have applied this stiffer test in subsequent cases when judging whether Members have intentionally misused Parliamentary allowances or other public money.[467]

287. Were the higher test to be considered appropriate, I believe that, taken as a whole, the evidence in the present case would be sufficient to meet it. However, there is no issue of that sort, relating to the allegedly dishonest use of public money, at stake in this case. In my view, the balance of probabilities is the appropriate test for me to apply to the evidential issues arising in relation to the complaints against Mr Galloway. If I had found evidence that Mr Galloway had, directly and personally, unlawfully received moneys from the former Iraqi regime, his culpability, if any, in this respect would have been a matter to be tested in the criminal courts, to the criminal standard of proof. However, as I have said in paragraph 281 above, I have not found such evidence.

AN INVESTIGATORY PANEL?

288. It will be evident from my exposition of the evidence that a good deal of it is disputed by Mr Galloway. Standing Order 150(4)-(9) allows for the appointment of an Investigatory Panel—consisting of a lawyer and a senior Member of the House—to assist me in establishing the facts relevant to the investigation of a complaint against a Member. Such a panel may be established either if I so decide or at the request of the Committee on Standards and Privileges.

289. However, as will be seen, much, though not all, of the evidence on which I rely in reaching the conclusions which follow is undisputed by Mr Galloway, indeed, much of it is the evidence of Mr Galloway himself. Nor has Mr Galloway at any point requested the establishment of such a panel. For these and other reasons, I have pursued the inquiry alone, applying a similar approach to that which I apply to the investigation of a complaint against any other Member.

MY ASSESSMENT OF THE EVIDENCE

290. I turn now to assess the evidence I have accumulated. Before I examine it in relation to the key questions I set out in paragraph 43, I make two general comments.

291. First it will be clear from my recital of the evidence earlier in this report that it is not all of the same weight:

a)  The most powerful evidence, to which I attach the greatest weight, is that given directly to me by witnesses about events in which they were directly involved. This is particularly credible where I have been able to test that evidence against other evidence and have found it consistent. Into this category, I put, for example, most of the evidence of Mr David Blair (given not only to me but, on oath, in court), Dr Al-Chalabi, Mr Halford and Mr Al-Mukhtar, and of course of Mr Galloway himself. I also attach great weight to the forensic analysis of the Telegraph documents undertaken by Mr Thorne.

b)  I have also had access, in the course of my inquiry, to a good deal of documentary evidence from UN and Iraqi State Oil Marketing Organisation (SOMO) records relating to the Oil for Food Programme, as well as to documentation assembled by the Charity Commission relating to the Mariam Appeal. Again, I attach very great weight to this material.

c)  I have included in my report reference to findings of the UN Independent Inquiry Committee (the Volcker Report) and the two reports of the US Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations on matters relating to Mr Galloway. I have not been able to interview Mr Tariq Aziz and other former Iraqi officials or the oil traders who claim to have knowledge of Mr Galloway in relation to oil trading and I cannot therefore attach the same weight to the evidence they are reported to have given as to that which I have received, and been able to test, directly. However, my own knowledge of the documentation which underlies the analysis in these reports of contracts awarded under the Oil for Food Programme gives me strong confidence in their findings about the use made of the Programme by the former Iraqi regime to subvent those it perceived to be its supporters abroad.

d)  I attach much less weight to some other material I have included in my report, notably the evidence of Mr Tony Zureikat and the purported record of Mr Galloway's meeting with Saddam Hussein on 8 August 2002. As regards Mr Tony Zureikat, there are some obvious queries about his evidence—for example, in relation to his apparent references to Mr Galloway drinking alcohol and his dating of Mr Galloway's last meeting with Saddam Hussein—and he clearly has no love for his cousin, Fawaz. That said, Mr Galloway has not succeeded in standing up his claim that Mr Tony Zureikat is wanted in Jordan on criminal charges and Mr Zureikat's evidence is consistent with other evidence (and corroborated by documentation, including material in UN databases[468]) at a number of points. It is not therefore to be dismissed as readily as Mr Galloway suggests.

One of the points at which Mr Tony Zureikat's evidence is consistent in some respects with other evidence is the purported transcript of the meeting on 8 August 2002. However, Mr Zureikat was not present at that meeting; rather, the account he gives is of what he says he heard in a conversation between Mr Galloway and Tony's cousin, Fawaz, shortly after the meeting had occurred. I have not been able to interview any of those present at the meeting itself (other than Mr Galloway) and would want to be able to do this and to know more of the precise origin of the document itself before I could feel confident in attaching substantial weight to it. Nonetheless the document cannot, on the evidence, be entirely dismissed as a fake, as Mr Galloway suggests.

292. Having explained the varying degrees of weight I attach to the evidence, the other general point I make is this. Subject to the proviso I expressed in para 281 above, I have not found a "smoking gun" which shows that Mr Galloway has, personally and directly, unlawfully received moneys from the former Iraqi regime. However I have amassed a very substantial body of evidence from a variety of sources which is generally internally consistent and, in my view:

a)  Clearly shows that Mr Galloway's anti-sanctions work through the Mariam Appeal was in effect supported by the former Iraqi regime, through Mr Fawaz Zureikat and using, among other things, the mechanism of the Oil for Food Programme.

b)  Clearly shows that Mr Galloway at best turned a blind eye to the fact that this was happening.

c)  Shows that it is more likely than not that Mr Galloway knew about and was complicit in what was happening.

Moreover, take away any one or two particular pieces of evidence—such as the testimony of Mr Tony Zureikat and the purported record of the 8 August 2002 meeting—and one is still left, in my submission, with a very substantial body of material pointing to the same conclusions. I turn now to explain how I reach these conclusions.

(A) THE TELEGRAPH DOCUMENTS

(i) Are they authentic?

293. Mr Galloway asserts that they are not. First he says that the documents which Mr David Blair claims to have found in the burnt-out Foreign Ministry building in Baghdad were not, in whole or in part, obtained in the circumstances Mr Blair claims. Secondly, he argues that, however they were found, the documents are forgeries or fakes like others about him which were obtained by other newspapers at that time.

294. The evidence Mr Galloway has provided in support of his version of the provenance of the documents is second hand. It consists of his account of what he says he was told by a senior journalist, an account which is supported by Mr Ron McKay, who says he was also present at the conversation, and by the e-mail which Mr Galloway sent his legal adviser shortly after the conversation had allegedly occurred (an e-mail which the legal adviser has acknowledged receiving at the time in question). However Mr Galloway has consistently declined to give me the name of the senior journalist concerned, so that I have had no opportunity to test this story at its source.

295. On the other hand I have been able to question Mr Blair directly about his first hand account of the finding of the documents, an account which he also gave and on which he was examined on oath in the High Court. Mr Blair not only denies Mr Galloway's alternative account of how the documents were found, but his own account was supported by his translator, Mr A, and the Telegraph photographer Mr O'Malley in the High Court. Moreover, Mr Philip Sherwell of the Sunday Telegraph who, according to Mr Galloway's informant, had questioned Mr Blair's account, has denied doing so in evidence to me. And in his forensic report, Mr Thorne found no evidence that—as Mr Galloway had alleged—some or all of the disputed Telegraph documents had been found at a different time or place to the others. In the absence of any direct evidence to support Mr Galloway's account of the provenance of the documents, I find Mr Blair's account convincing.

296. Mr Galloway goes on to assert that, however they were found, the Telegraph documents are in any case forgeries or fakes, like others (the Christian Science Monitor and Mail on Sunday documents) which were obtained by newspapers shortly after the fall of the former Iraqi regime and were subsequently found to be so. However, while the fact that other documents purporting to relate to Mr Galloway were in circulation in Baghdad in 2003 must make us wary of accepting any such documents at face value, it cannot be automatically assumed from that that the Telegraph documents are forgeries. The sheer number and nature of the documents makes this unlikely, and the documents include several which have been accepted as authentic by their authors (two of them by Mr Galloway himself[469]). Moreover Mr Thorne's report[470] provides powerful forensic evidence that, in his words:

"… the vast majority of the submitted documents are authentic. …the submitted documents are not all forgeries created at a later time…"

and that, as regards the key documents at the heart of the complaint:

"Given that the vast majority of the submitted documents are authentic then, in my opinion, there is a high probability that all the disputed documents are also authentic. I find no evidence that any are forgeries or altered and I consider this possibility to be extremely unlikely."

297. Bearing in mind the forensic evidence in particular, I conclude that there is strong evidence, on the balance of probabilities, that the documents are authentic.

(ii) Are the Documents credible having regard to the totality of the evidence?

298. Mr Galloway argues that, whatever the provenance of the Telegraph documents and whether or not they are authentic they are in any case false. However, what the documents say is consistent with other evidence at several points, as I have set out in paragraphs 192-201 above. What the documents say, for example, in relation to:

  • Mr Fawaz Zureikat's status as Mr Galloway's representative in Baghdad on all matters concerning his work with the Mariam Appeal or the Emergency Committee in Iraq is confirmed by Mr Galloway himself; and
  • Mr Zureikat's obtaining oil allocations and humanitarian contracts from the former Iraqi regime is confirmed by SOMO and UN documents.

299. The credibility of the documents is, I suggest, also supported by the likely explanation for the 'work programme' referred to in the Tariq Aziz memo. Mr Galloway's initial explanation as to what was meant by that reference—that it referred to the work camps planned by the Mariam Appeal—I find unconvincing, for the reasons I have set out in paragraph 95 above. It is more likely, in my view, that what this and the Al-Sahhaf letter of 22 January 2000 are referring to is Mr Galloway's 'working programme' defined in the terms described in Mr Galloway's letter to me of 27 April 2007,[471] that is a "description of the work a campaign or other independent political organisation might draw up …" Although Mr Galloway does not admit having sent a letter describing such a 'working programme' to the then Iraqi Charge d'Affaires in London, Mr Al-Amin,[472] he acknowledges in his letter of 27 April 2007 having discussed the components of such a working programme at various points with Mr Al-Amin and his predecessor. As he puts it in his letter of 8 May 2007:

"I regularly communicated with the Iraqi Charge d'Affairs from 1991 until 2003, whomsoever was in that post. I met them; I spoke to them by phone: I copied them into bulletins and campaign materials etc. Where I required to, for example the flight to Baghdad which needed Iraqi government clearance or the proposed 'Work Brigades' which needed the agreement of several Iraqi ministries, both Mr Halford and I wrote to them."

300. In my view, this explanation of what the various references to Mr Galloway's 'work' or 'working programme' in the Telegraph documents are likely to mean is realistic. It means that the programme is best understood not as, in Mr Galloway's terms, a detailed body of tasks to which he could contractually be held but as a description of the operational goals or aspirations of the anti-sanctions campaign which he led. If this explanation is accepted, it makes the content of the Tariq Aziz memo and other key Telegraph documents more readily understandable and, in my view, more credible.

301. If the reference to Mr Galloway's 'work programme' is central to the Tariq Aziz memo, the allegation that Mr Galloway met an officer of the Iraqi Intelligence service in Baghdad on 26 December 1999 is similarly central to the Intelligence Chief's memo. Mr Galloway denies ever knowingly meeting anyone from the Iraqi Intelligence service.[473] However, as I have set out in paragraph 194 above, Mr Galloway has never given a clear, precise and detailed account of what he did do in Baghdad on 26 December 1999, despite numerous opportunities to do so. Moreover, as I have described in paragraphs 193-199 the memorandum is consistent with other evidence at several points.

302. Bearing in mind the evidence in paragraphs 192-201 and for the reasons I have given in the preceding paragraphs, I find, on the balance of probabilities, that the Telegraph documents are (taken as a whole) not only authentic but credible, having regard to the totality of the evidence presented in this report.

(B) WHAT WAS THE NATURE OF THE MARIAM APPEAL AND OF THE ROLES OF MR GALLOWAY AND MR FAWAZ ZUREIKAT IN RELATION TO IT?

303. As I noted in paragraph 272, there is no dispute in relation to the evidence concerning the essential nature of the Mariam Appeal or the roles of Mr Galloway and Mr Fawaz Zureikat in relation to it. Three key points emerge from that evidence:

i)  The Mariam Appeal was primarily a political campaign, in opposition to the policy of sanctions on Iraq.

ii)  Throughout the Appeal's life, Mr Galloway was the one who effectively directed its activities.

When I put to him in our meeting on 30 November 2006:

"In their evidence, both Sabah Al-Mukhtar and Stuart Halford say that you were responsible for the overall direction of the Mariam Appeal throughout its life. Is that how you would describe your role?"

Mr Galloway replied:

"Absolutely … Neither Mr Al-Mukhtar, Mr Halford nor anybody else are responsible for any of these big questions that we are discussing now. … In terms of policy decisions of import, all of these were mine; I take full responsibility for them."[474]

iii)  Mr Fawaz Zureikat was the second highest donor to the Appeal, and from August 2000 the person who effectively funded it.[475]

304. In addition there is no dispute that Mr Galloway's Parliamentary staff and office were used in support of the Appeal, although Mr Galloway does dispute that that use was extensive or in any way improper.[476]

(C) DID MR GALLOWAY DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY THROUGH HIS APPOINTED REPRESENTATIVE IN BAGHDAD, MR FAWAZ ZUREIKAT, GAIN ANY BENEFIT FROM MONEY DERIVED, EITHER THROUGH THE OIL FOR FOOD PROGRAMME OR BY OTHER MEANS, FROM THE FORMER IRAQI REGIME?

305. Mr Galloway has consistently denied that either he or the Mariam Appeal have benefited from funds derived through the Oil for Food Programme from the former Iraqi regime.

306. As I have said in paragraph 281, I have not found evidence that Mr Galloway has, directly and personally, unlawfully received moneys from the former Iraqi regime. I have been given evidence by Dr Al-Chalabi of a payment by him of $120,000 to Mr Galloway's former wife, Dr Abu-Zayyad, which derived from a commission payment Dr Al-Chalabi received under the programme.[477] As I do not have access to the bank accounts in question, I do not know whether Mr Galloway benefited in any way from this payment. Nor do I know whether Mr Galloway benefited from a payment of $150,000 to Dr Abu-Zayyad which the US Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations found to have been made by Mr Fawaz Zureikat out of oil contract commission.[478]

307. However, the evidence I have set out in paragraphs 163-190 above in my view substantiates clearly that:

i)  Mr Galloway, Mr Fawaz Zureikat and the Mariam Campaign were on different occasions named in Iraqi SOMO records as beneficiaries of allocations under the Oil for Food Programme.[479]

ii)  Mr Zureikat traded in oil. His company, MEASI, also benefited from contracts for the supply of humanitarian goods under the Programme.[480]

iii)  Donations by Mr Fawaz Zureikat to the Mariam Appeal were, in at least two instances, derived directly from commission payments that Mr Zureikat received under the Programme.[481]

308. I have already found that the Mariam Appeal was primarily a political campaign against the then UN sanctions regime applying to Iraq. Mr Galloway was the founder and, effectively, the controlling force in that Appeal. He was supported—both personally in terms of his expenses[482] and more generally in terms of the achievement of his political objectives—by the Appeal, indeed it was a vehicle through which he sought to achieve those objectives. I conclude that, while I have no evidence that Mr Galloway, directly and personally, unlawfully received moneys from the former Iraqi regime, there is clear evidence that the Mariam Appeal did benefit from such moneys, which were made available to it through the mechanism of the Oil for Food Programme and the agency of Mr Zureikat. Mr Galloway, through his controlling position in the Appeal, benefited from those moneys, in terms of the furtherance of his political objectives.

(D) DID MR GALLOWAY KNOW THAT HE WAS RECEIVING SUPPORT FOR HIS ACTIVITIES IN RELATION TO THE MARIAM APPEAL FROM THE FORMER IRAQI REGIME, OR WAS HE RECKLESS OR NEGLIGENT IN RELATION TO THE RECEIPT OF SUCH SUPPORT?

309. Although Mr Galloway has latterly conceded that Mr Fawaz Zureikat was trading in oil with the former Iraqi regime,[483] he says that he did not know this at the time, although he did know that Mr Zureikat sold food to and was involved in other business in Iraq.[484] He did not himself solicit support from the former Iraqi regime, nor did he know how Mr Zureikat and others who contributed to the Mariam Appeal came by the money donated.[485]

310. Examining first the evidence in relation to whether Mr Galloway was reckless or negligent in regard to the sources of money donated to the Mariam Appeal, Mr Galloway argues that political fundraising is:

"… seldom pretty … Political fundraising is, by definition, an affair which leaves neither the giver nor the seeker of the funds for political purpose entirely untarnished."[486]

It was not, he says, his duty to ask any of the three principal donors to the Appeal from where they got their money.[487] As to the donations specifically made by Mr Fawaz Zureikat, Mr Galloway says:

"The money came from Zureikat, it did not come from the Oil for Food Programme. I suspect you may well say he earned his money through his business dealings with the Oil for Food Programme, but it is not as true as you think it is. He gave us the money from his personal funds. They did not belong to anyone else's funds, but funds which belonged to him. That is all that matters to me. I was only interested in raising the funds. It was not for me to enquire of the three principal donors how they made their money."[488]

311. Mr Galloway also argues that the UN Oil for Food Programme was a perfectly lawful programme, with the implication that any moneys derived from it were untainted.[489] The Programme was, indeed, lawful, but its perversion by the Iraqi regime to support or reward its supporters abroad (see Appendix 2) was not. And from Phase VIII onward (the first phase in which Mr Fawaz Zureikat was awarded a contract in his own name under the Programme) it involved the payment by allocation holders (including Mr Zureikat) of illegal surcharges to the then Iraqi regime.[490]

312. I conclude that Mr Galloway, on his own evidence, failed to enquire the sources of Mr Zureikat's donations to the Mariam Appeal. At best he turned a blind eye to those sources. He continues to be in a state of denial that they included moneys derived from the former Iraqi regime via their manipulation of the Oil for Food Programme.

313. Did Mr Galloway know that the former Iraqi regime was supporting his activities in campaigning through the Mariam Appeal for an end to sanctions? I believe that, taken as a whole, the evidence shows that it is more likely that he did than he did not. In reaching this conclusion I have in mind the material set out in paragraphs 192-211 above, and elsewhere in this report, in particular the following:

a)  The evidence of Dr Al-Chalabi as to his discussions with Mr Galloway and with Mr Mudhafar Al-Amin (which are confirmed by Mr Galloway) about the planned mercy flight to Baghdad[491]; the visit he and Mr Galloway paid to Baghdad in December 1999 to seek the then Iraqi regime's support for the planned flight[492]; the presence of Mr Fawaz Zureikat in Baghdad in December 1999 at the same time as Dr Al-Chalabi was effecting the introduction of Fortum to the Iraqi Oil Ministry, an introduction for which he subsequently received a commission payment which he intended to devote to funding the planned flight[493]; and Mr Zureikat's likely knowledge of the arrangement Dr Al-Chalabi had with Fortum.[494]

b)  The evidence of Mr Halford and Mr Sabah Al-Mukhtar as to Mr Galloway's central role in the Mariam Appeal (a role the centrality of which Mr Galloway does not dispute)[495]; Mr Galloway's key role in raising other funds for the Appeal[496]; the close relationship between Mr Galloway and Mr Zureikat[497]; and Mr Halford's evidence as to Mr Galloway's part in regularly soliciting more money for the Appeal from Mr Zureikat.[498]

c)  The likely authenticity and credibility of the Telegraph documents, taken as a whole, for the reasons I have earlier set out.[499]

d)  The likely explanation of the nature of Mr Galloway's 'work' or 'working' programme, a programme which—understood as a projected series of events by the Mariam Appeal—Mr Galloway has acknowledged that he had discussed with representatives of the Iraqi Government.[500]

I do not rest this conclusion on either the evidence of Mr Tony Zureikat or the purported record of the 8 August 2002 meeting (although they are consistent with it).

314. The conclusion that Mr Galloway knew what was happening is one to which I find myself driven not only by the weight and consistency of the evidence taken as a whole but by my understanding of Mr Galloway's character. To have been ignorant of what was going on would have required a remarkable degree either of complacency or of naivete. Mr Galloway can in no way be accused of possessing either of these faults.

315. I sum up my conclusions on the basis of the evidence available to me as follows:

a)  There is clear evidence that the Telegraph documents are authentic and, taking the evidence as a whole, credible.

b)  The Mariam Appeal was primarily a political campaign. It was, effectively, directed by Mr Galloway and Mr Fawaz Zureikat was the second highest donor to it.

c)  A substantial part of the donations made to the Appeal by Mr Zureikat came from moneys derived, via the Oil for Food Programme, from the former Iraqi regime.

d)  Mr Galloway was not directly and personally in the pay of that regime but his political activities conducted through the Mariam Appeal were, in part, funded by the regime via Mr Zureikat.

e)  Mr Galloway at best turned a blind eye to what was happening. On balance, it is likely, however, that he knew, and was complicit in, what was going on.

HAS MR GALLOWAY COMPLIED WITH HIS OBLIGATIONS AS A MEMBER UNDER THE CODE OF CONDUCT AND RULES OF THE HOUSE?

316. I set out the relevant obligations in paragraphs 25-30 of this report. In the following paragraphs I examine Mr Galloway's conduct measured against those obligations.

a)  Registration

317. When writing to me about Mr Galloway's conduct, Mr Robathan, the principal complainant, specifically raised the question whether Mr Galloway had complied with his obligation, under the Code and the Rules, to register pecuniary or material benefits received in the capacity of a Member.

318. Paragraph 9 of the successive editions of the Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members defines the main purpose of the Register of Members' Interests as being:

"to provide information of any pecuniary interest or other material benefit which a Member receives which might reasonably be thought by others to influence his or her actions, speeches or votes in Parliament, or actions taken in his or her capacity as a Member of Parliament."

It continues:

"Apart from the specific rules, there is a more general obligation upon Members to keep the overall definition of the Register's purpose in mind when registering their interests."[501]

319. The principle underlying the system is one of openness, and through openness, accountability. Moreover, the test as to whether an interest should be registered is not whether the Member concerned thinks it should be, but whether the interest in question might reasonably be thought by others to influence his or her actions in a Parliamentary capacity.

320. In order to assist Members to ensure that all relevant interests are registered, the Register provides not only nine specific categories of interest—including sponsorships (category 4) and gifts and benefits from UK (category 5) and overseas (category 7) sources—but a tenth, 'miscellaneous category', in which Members may register:

"Any relevant interest, not falling within one of the above categories, which nevertheless falls within the definition of the main purpose of the Register … or which the Member considers might be thought by others to influence his or her actions in a similar manner, even though the Member receives no financial benefit."

321. If Mr Galloway had personally received moneys, whether properly or improperly, from the former Iraqi regime, or any other overseas source, he would clearly have been obliged to register it under category 7 of the Rules (Overseas benefits and gifts). However I have not found evidence that Mr Galloway, directly and personally, received such moneys, and this issue does not therefore arise.

322. As I have noted,[502] Mr Galloway registered over the years many entries relating to Iraq, a number involving the Mariam Appeal or the Great Britain-Iraq Society. However, this was not sufficient, in my submission, to discharge his obligation to register relevant interests, for the following reasons.

323. I have demonstrated earlier in this report that the Mariam Appeal was primarily a political campaign, instituted by Mr Galloway and substantially directed by him in order to help achieve the political objective of ending UN sanctions in Iraq.[503] The existence of the Appeal itself—with, it must be remembered, total resources eventually at its disposal of £1.4 million—was therefore a substantial material benefit to Mr Galloway in achieving his political objectives.

324. Mr Galloway's position as a Member of Parliament was central to the Appeal. Without that, it seems highly unlikely that the Appeal would have achieved the prominance it did or that overseas governments would have contributed to its funding. Mr Galloway and the Appeal were, it seems reasonable to suppose, valued by those governments precisely because he was able, as a Member of Parliament, to speak from a prominent public position in criticism of UK Government and UN policy on Iraq.

325. These considerations lead me to the view that both the Mariam Appeal itself and individual donations to it above the then threshold for registration should have been entered in the Register of Members' Interests. Specifically:

a)  The Appeal itself was registrable under category 4(b), in that it was a form of "regular or continuing support … from which the Member receives any financial or material benefit in support of his role as a Member". Such arrangements must be registered even if the Member does not receive personal payment from them.

Even were this argument not to be accepted, the Appeal would certainly have been registrable under category 10—the Miscellaneous category—the scope of which I have set out earlier. The Appeal was certainly a material benefit to Mr Galloway in his Parliamentary and political activities. Its purpose and existence was a matter which might reasonably be thought by others to influence his Parliamentary actions even if he received no financial or material benefit from the Appeal (though in fact he did).

b)  Individual donations to the Appeal were registrable under either category 4(b) or category 5 or 7, depending on their source. They represented a material benefit to Mr Galloway which related to his membership of the House. I do not suggest that without those donations Mr Galloway would not have articulated the views he did. However, a reasonable person could conclude that they might well have influenced him in how he sought to advance those views in his Parliamentary capacity.

326. I am fortified in reaching this conclusion by correspondence which my predecessor had with Mr Galloway in the summer of 1999. This was initiated by Mr Galloway, who on 5 July 1999 wrote to my predecessor as follows:

"In my adjournment debate on 29 June 1999 I declared an interest—really just to be on the safe side.

"I am the Chairman of the Mariam Appeal. I receive no benefit of any kind from this. But as it had received foreign government support I thought I should mention it.

"Do I need to do anything else?"[504]

327. The then Commissioner replied on 8 July 1999 as follows:

"You say you receive no benefit from this Appeal which receives funds from foreign governments but you declared the interest 'to be on the safe side'. I can see the wisdom of that. Indeed you might decide you wish to register it in the Miscellaneous category in the Register."

328. Mr Galloway replied on 12 July, taking issue with some other aspects of my predecessor's letter. His reply did not, however, respond directly to Ms Filkin's suggestion that he register in category 10 his interest as Chairman of the Mariam Appeal, and at no point did he do so.

329. I conclude that Mr Galloway, in the respects I have set out in paragraph 325, was in breach of his obligation as a Member under the Code to "fulfil conscientiously the requirements of the House in respect of the registration of interests …".

330. There is one other aspect of Mr Galloway's obligation in respect of the registration of interests to which I should refer. I have found evidence of a gift or material advantage which Mr Galloway's then wife Dr Abu-Zayyad, received from Dr Burham Al-Chalabi.[505] If this gift were one which in any way related to Mr Galloway's membership of the House, it too would have been required to be registered by Mr Galloway.

331. Dr Al-Chalabi says, however, that he gave the gift in order to assist Dr Abu-Zayyad's work on the effects of depleted uranium on Iraqi children. Dr Abu-Zayyad has declined to be interviewed by me on this matter. But if Dr Al-Chalabi's account is accepted, it was not a gift received by Dr Abu-Zayyad relating to Mr Galloway's membership of the House. On balance I do not think that, on the available evidence, Mr Galloway can be found in breach of the House's rules in failing to register it.

b) Declaration

332. The same provision of the Code as that relating to the registration of interests says that Members:

"… shall always draw attention to any relevant interest in any proceeding of the House or its Committees, or in any communications with Ministers, Government Departments or Executive Agencies."

It is evident from Mr Galloway's letter of 5 July 1999 quoted above that he was aware of his obligation in relation to the Mariam Appeal in this respect, not least because the Appeal had received money from foreign governments.

333. Mr Galloway's observance of this obligation was, however, patchy to say the least. I have set out the relevant facts in paragraphs 35-37 above. I find that, to the extent that I have chronicled in those paragraphs, Mr Galloway was in breach of his obligation under the Code to declare a relevant interest in proceedings of the House.

c) Paid Advocacy

334. Having considered the question of Mr Galloway's obligations under the Code in respect of the registration and declaration of interests (see paragraphs 25(a) and 26-30 above) I turn now to consider his obligations in relation to 'paid advocacy' (paragraph 25(b)).

335. These fall into two parts. First there is the question whether Mr Galloway has breached the provisions of the House's Resolution of 15 July 1947 (as amended on 6 November 1995) which I quoted in paragraph 25(b) above. Secondly there is the question whether Mr Galloway breached the relevant provisions of the Guide to the Rules.

336. As regards the first question, although the available evidence points conclusively to the fact that Mr Galloway's political activities through the Mariam Appeal were supported financially by the governments of Abu Dhabi, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, I do not think it can be argued convincingly that Mr Galloway's stance in opposing UK Government policy on Iraq, and the UN sanctions arrangements in particular, were motivated by that financial support. Mr Galloway's views were consistent over many years and long pre-dated the establishment of the Mariam Appeal. To argue that he was simply a paid mouthpiece of those governments would be a travesty of what I believe to be his consistent views on these issues, views which I have no reason to doubt stemmed from deep conviction.

337. The second question, however, is not so straightforward. The Guide to the Rules in force from 24 July 1996 to 14 May 2002 (i.e. during the bulk of the period covered by the present inquiry) said in introducing guidelines on the application of the advocacy rule:

"If a financial interest is required to be registered in the Register of Members' Interests, or declared in debate, it falls within the scope of the advocacy rule …

1. Initiating a parliamentary proceeding: When a Member has received, is receiving or expects to receive a pecuniary benefit from a body (or individual) outside Parliament the Member may not initiate any parliamentary proceeding which relates specifically and directly to the affairs and interests of that body (or individual); any client of such a body (or individual); any group, sector, category or organisation whose affairs and interests are substantially the same as those of the outside body (or individual).

2. Participation in debate &c.: When making a speech or participating in any other parliamentary proceeding, advocacy is prohibited which seeks to confer benefit exclusively upon a body (or individual) outside Parliament, from which the Member has received, is receiving, or expects to receive a pecuniary benefit, or upon any registrable client of such a body (or individual). Otherwise a Member may speak freely on matters which specifically and directly relate to the affairs and interests of a body (or individual) from which he or she receives a pecuniary benefit, provided the benefit is properly registered and declared."

338. This provision was substantially amended in May 2002 following recommendations by the Committee on Standards in Public Life.[506] It now takes the form of the 'exclusive benefit' rule set out in paragraphs 76-78 of the present Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members. This prevents a Member from participating in proceedings which seek to confer benefit exclusively on any body or individual from which he or she receives a pecuniary benefit. Otherwise a Member may speak freely on matters in which he or she has an interest, provided that interest is properly registered or declared. The importance of this proviso is underlined in paragraph 78 of the Guide.

339. The provisions in force up to May 2002 in my submission prevented Mr Galloway from initiating any Parliamentary proceedings relating specifically and directly to the interests of the Mariam Appeal and those of any group, sector, category or organisation (such as the former government of Iraq) whose interests were substantially the same as those of the Appeal. Once he had received money from the Appeal, they established an absolute prohibition in this respect. It seems likely therefore that a number of proceedings initiated by Mr Galloway after the formation of the Appeal in 1998 were in breach of this provision of the Rules. Certainly any initiated by Mr Galloway after August 2000, when Mr Zureikat made his first donation to the Appeal substantially funded from OFF Programme transactions, breached this provision.[507]

d) The Reputation of the House

340. In paragraph 25(c) above, I drew attention to the provision of the Code of Conduct that:

"Members shall at all times conduct themselves in a manner which will tend to maintain and strengthen the public's trust and confidence in the integrity of Parliament and never undertake any action which would bring the House of Commons, or its Members generally, into disrepute."

There has been no change in this provision of the Code since the Code was first introduced.

341. I said in paragraph 25(c):

"If it were to be the case that Mr Galloway had, recklessly or knowingly, improperly received monies from a foreign government, directly or indirectly, either for his personal gain or in support of his political activities on behalf of policies favoured by that Government, the question would arise whether he had thereby brought the House as an institution, as distinct from himself personally, into disrepute."

342. In his most recent letter to me,[508] Mr Galloway continues to argue;

"I never sought, nor received, financial benefit from the former Iraqi regime, directly or indirectly."

The evidence I have set out earlier in this report establishes, I believe that Mr Galloway did indirectly receive, via Mr Fawaz Zureikat and the Mariam Appeal, money from the former Iraqi regime in support of his political campaign against UK policy and UN sanctions on Iraq. It also establishes that he received such support at least recklessly or negligently, and probably knowingly.

343. Mr Galloway also argues that the UN Oil for Food Programme was a legal programme, with the implication that any and all moneys derived from it were therefore received properly. As I have pointed out earlier,[509] whilst the Programme was indeed lawful, its perversion by the former Iraqi regime to reward its supporters abroad was not. Moreover at the same time as he was making donations derived from OFF Programme money to the Mariam Appeal, Mr Fawaz Zureikat was paying unlawful surcharges to that regime. In short Mr Zureikat was, on the evidence, party to an abuse of the Programme and a significant portion of the money the Mariam Appeal received from Mr Zureikat came through an abuse of that Programme. Moreover at the time the money was received from, in effect, the then Iraqi government, that government had failed to comply with a number of UN resolutions.

344. In my view these facts alone are sufficient to establish that the moneys indirectly received by Mr Galloway via the Mariam Appeal in support of his political activities were received improperly. The impropriety attaching to this is alone a sufficient basis on which to conclude that Mr Galloway's actions in this matter have fallen well short of those the public can reasonably expect of a Member, and thus potentially to damage the reputation of the House itself.[510]

345. There are additional grounds which I suggest justify such a finding. The evidence shows that Mr Galloway's conduct throughout this matter has fallen short of several of the general principles of conduct (the so-called Nolan principles) which were first articulated by the Committee on Standards in Public Life[511] and subsequently embodied in the Code of Conduct of the House. I have in mind in particular the principles of:

Openness

  • Mr Galloway failed to register or consistently to declare his interest in the Mariam Appeal (see paragraphs 317-333 above).
  • He has never given a precise and detailed account of what he did and whom he met in Baghdad on 26 December 1999 (see paragraph 194 above).
  • It was almost four years into my inquiry before he offered a credible explanation as to the nature of the 'work' or 'working' programme he had discussed with the Iraqi charge d'affaires in London (see paragraphs 88-97 above).

Honesty

  • Mr Galloway has consistently denied, prevaricated and fudged in relation to the now undeniable evidence that the Mariam Appeal, and he indirectly through it, received money derived, via the Oil for Food Programme, from the former Iraqi regime:
  • "The money came from Zureikat, it did not come from the Oil for Food Programme. I suspect you may well say he earned this money through his business dealings with the Oil for Food Programme but it is not as true as you think it is."[512]
  • "I have never received a penny, directly or indirectly (emphasis added) from the former Iraqi Government…"[513]
  • "… there is not a jot or tittle to indicate that he [Fawaz Zureikat] had committed any illegal act."[514]

Accountability

  • "With respect, that is none of your business and it is none of anyone else's business" (when asked about the financial record-keeping practices of the Mariam Appeal).[515]
  • "There is no evidence that I ever received any money from any business with Iraq, which should have been entered in the Members' Register".[516]

346. On these grounds also I believe that Mr Galloway has breached his obligation under the Code to conduct himself in a manner tending to maintain public trust and confidence in the integrity of Parliament. I am not speaking here of the objectives he pursued, but of the manner in which he has been found to have pursued them.

347. I make one final relevant observation. In the course of its life the Mariam Appeal enjoyed a total income of over £1.4 million, mainly derived from 3 overseas sources.[517] No audited accounts were ever produced by the Appeal, but of this, it seems likely, on the information available to me, that up to £100,000 was expended on the care of Mariam Hamza herself. The great bulk of the Appeal's expenditure went on its campaigning activities. The propriety of this expenditure is not a matter for me: it is for the Charity Commission and the Appeal's trustees. I simply make the point that the sums of money involved in the Appeal were substantial, indeed way beyond those involved in most political campaigns run by Members. The issues involved are serious. The matter of Mr Galloway's conduct in relation to the Appeal cannot simply be dismissed as in his words "… a spat over the funding of political campaigns".[518]

e) Use of Parliamentary Resources and Facilities

348. In paragraph 160, I set out evidence that Mr Galloway's Parliamentary staff and Parliamentary office were employed in assisting the Mariam Appeal. Mr Galloway argues that this assistance was "common practice in political campaigns run by Members of Parliament",[519] and that it was not extensive.[520] His then office was used as the correspondence address of the campaign for "a short period".[521]

349. However the evidence I have set out indicates that House of Commons notepaper was used to send out an appeal on behalf of the campaign in May 1998. It was not until the following year that the Mariam Appeal acquired separate offices in Northumberland Avenue. Even thereafter, according to Mr Halford,[522] Mr Galloway's Parliamentary staff undertook work for the Appeal. I find it difficult therefore to agree with Mr Galloway's view that what happened in this respect fell within the bounds of the reasonable and normal. Moreover the scale of the campaign was, as I have pointed out, way beyond that of the kind of campaign in which Members are normally involved. Mr Galloway's use of his Parliamentary office and staff, provided from public funds, in support of the Mariam Appeal constituted therefore, in my view, a further breach of the Rules of the House.

350. The impression I have from the evidence in this particular respect is consistent with a wider impression I have formed from the evidence as a whole—that Mr Galloway, fully convinced as to the rightness of his cause, was less than careful in how it was prosecuted. I have in mind here his random declarations of interest during relevant proceedings of the House; the absence of precise books and records relating to the income and expenditure and activities of the Mariam Appeal; and the blurred line which appears to have existed between the activities of the Appeal and those of Mr Galloway's Parliamentary office.

SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS

351. To sum up my conclusions in relation to the complaint by Mr Robathan, I recommend that it be upheld on the basis that Mr Galloway has been in breach of his obligation to register interests as set out in paragraph 325 above. I also find that Mr Galloway has failed in his obligations as a Member in that:

a)  he has failed to declare his interest when participating in relevant proceedings in the House (paragraphs 35-37 and 353 above);

b)  he has breached the provisions in the then Guide to the Rules relating to the application of the advocacy rule to the initiation of Parliamentary proceedings (paragraphs 337-339 above);

c)  his actions have been such as to contravene paragraph 15 of the current Code[523]—the disrepute provision—for the reasons set out in paragraphs 340-347 above; and

d)  he has made use of his Parliamentary office and staff in support of the Mariam Appeal beyond what was either reasonable or normal (paragraph 348-349).

MR GALLOWAY'S CONDUCT DURING MY INQUIRY

352. Having set out my assessment of the evidence and the conclusions I have reached in relation to Mr Robathan's complaint, I think it appropriate briefly to draw certain features of Mr Galloway's conduct during my inquiry to the attention of the Committee. I believe that any objective reading of the record of my correspondence and interviews with Mr Galloway will show that he has consistently failed to live up to the expectation of openness and straightforwardness in responding to questions and in other dealings which is critical to the continued effectiveness of the House's self-regulatory conduct regime. Mr Galloway's explanation of his position has been characterised by:

  • repeated denial of facts, in some cases only conceded when they cannot be denied any longer, as in the case of his authorship of the Great Britain-Iraq Society letter (see paragraphs 85-87).
  • constant attack without justification on the motives and conduct of anyone who has in any way offered evidence which might be considered damaging to him. Dr Audrey Giles, initially praised by Mr Galloway's spokesman for exposing the Mail on Sunday documents as forgeries,[524] has her first draft report on the Telegraph documents utterly rejected by Mr Galloway "as any 'forensic' examination".[525] Mr Oliver Thorne is condemned as the person commissioned by the Telegraph Group in the libel action whereas he had in fact been commissioned through intermediaries by Mr Galloway's own legal team.[526] Mr David Blair is accused, under the protection of Parliamentary privilege, of having lied about the circumstances in which he found the Telegraph documents (and therefore in effect of having committed perjury in the libel proceedings).[527] Mr Tony Zureikat is said by Mr Galloway to be "wanted for forgery, deception, fraud and theft in Jordan", but upon inquiry official channels are unable to confirm this.[528]
  • repeated attention to issues which in some senses are peripheral. It is striking, for example, that Mr Galloway's lengthy letter of 11 May 2007[529] does not dispute in detail the great bulk of the evidence in this report—the evidence on which I principally rest my conclusions—but seeks to demolish material which is essentially peripheral to those findings. Other evidence which is central but inconvenient—I have in mind Mr Thorne's forensic report—Mr Galloway has dismissed an "an expensive irrelevance".[530]
  • the making of wholly incorrect allegations without any factual basis—for example, in relation to my alleged use during my inquiry of "no shortage of British officials in Baghdad"[531], when the only context in which I have sought and been able to use them has been the transmission of correspondence, principally to and from the Iraqi government—allegations which have been several times repeated despite my having denied them.
  • readiness to argue one way and then argue the opposite when it suits him—as, for example, in relation to Mr Galloway's repeated charge that I had improperly extended the terms of reference of my inquiry to embrace the activities of those close to him, while asserting in his letter of 8 May 2007 that the identity of E Laing—who it had been alleged was just such a person—"went to the heart of the complaint you are meant to be investigating…"[532].

CLOSING REMARKS

353. I wish in closing to make 2 comments, one relating to Mr Galloway; the other to the nature of my inquiry in this case.

354. As regards Mr Galloway I have no doubt that he will regard the fact that I recommend that Mr Robathan's complaint be upheld and that I have found against him on a number of other matters simply as confirmation of what he has suspected all along—that my inquiry is part of the "attempted political assassination" to which he refers in his letter of 5 March 2007.[533] I do not suppose anything I say on that matter will persuade him otherwise. I simply observe this. My inquiry has not been into the rightness or wrongness of the Iraq war or of the UN sanctions regime which preceded it, or into Mr Galloway's views on these matters. I do not doubt that his opposition to UK Government policy and UN sanctions on Iraq stemmed from deep conviction rather than any cosy arrangement with the then Iraqi regime. Many members of the public, even those who disagree with his views, will respect him for his convictions.

355. At the end of his second interview with me, however, Mr Galloway argued in effect that the political end he sought—the abolition of sanctions on Iraq—justified any and all the means he employed to achieve it.[534] That is a dangerous argument for anyone to advance, however noble they believe their cause. It is in part to prevent the excesses and distortions to which such an approach can give rise—and to which the evidence shows they gave rise in this case—that behavioural frameworks like Codes of Conduct exist.

356. As to the nature of my inquiry in this case, I have pursued it in the same manner as I would a complaint against any other Member, but its duration and scale have been quite unlike any other. I could not have completed it without unstinting assistance from colleagues in my office and elsewhere. I wish to record my deep thanks for that assistance. Responsibility for this report is, of course, entirely my own.

5 June 2007             Sir Philip Mawer


130   Volume II, WE 1. Back

131   A copy of Mr Robathan's letter, which I received on 29 April 2003, is at Volume II, WE 2. Back

132   Volume II, PCS WE 3. Back

133   Volume II, WE 47. Back

134   Volume II, WE 48. Back

135   Volume II, WE 49. Back

136   See Volume II, WE 4. The translation of this memorandum and those at Volume II, WE 5, 7 and 8 which appeared in the Telegraph have not, so far as I am aware, been challenged at any point since their publication.  Back

137   Nor, to my knowledge, has it been located subsequently. For Mr Galloway's initial explanation as to what it might be, see para 79 below. For further relevant evidence, see paras 88-97. Back

138   Volume II, WE 5. Back

139   Volume II, WE 6. Back

140   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 3, Qq 311-312. Back

141   A translation of this memorandum ('the Presidential response') as published in the Daily Telegraph is at Volume II, WE 7. Back

142   A translation of this memorandum ('the Izzat Ibrahim memorandum') as published by the Daily Telegraph is at Volume II, WE 8. Back

143   Committee on Standards and Privileges, First Report of Session 2003-04, Conduct of Mr George Galloway, HC 73. Back

144   Judgment of Mr Justice Eady, para 194. Back

145   Ibid, para 197. Back

146   See para 73 of my memorandum to the Committee on Standards and Privileges, Third Report of Session 2004-05, Conduct of Mr Jonathan Sayeed, HC 233. Back

147   The Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members, Session 1995-96, HC 688, para 37 and The Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members, Session 2005-06, HC 351, para 55.  Back

148   Although the scope of the advocacy rule was altered in 2002 following recommendations by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, the provisions of the rule in relation to participation in debate and proceedings (as opposed to initiating a proceeding) were similar: See The Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members, Session 1995-96, HC 688, para 58 and The Code of Conduct and Guide to the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members, Session 2005-06, HC 351, para 76. Back

149   The obligation to declare does not apply to occasions when declaration would unduly slow down proceedings in the Chamber, such as interventions on ministerial statements or supplementary questions. Back

150   HC Deb, 27 March 1998, col 872. Back

151   HC Deb, 25 November 1998, col 144. Back

152   HC Deb, 29 June 1999, col 250. Back

153   EDM 603, Session 1999-00. Back

154   EDM 294, Session 2000-01. Back

155   HC Deb , 22 March 2000, col 263w. Back

156   HC Deb, 5 February 2001, col 83w. Back

157   On this point, see the Committee on Standards and Privileges, Second Report of Session 2000-01, Complaint against Mr John Maxton and Dr John Reid, HC 89 and Committee on Standards and Privileges, Third Report of Session 2002-03, Complaint against Mr Michael Trend, HC 435. Back

158   See paras 99-103 below. Back

159   See Vol III, PCS Oral Evidence 2, Qq 181-278. Back

160   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Q 217 Back

161   The nature of this 'work programme' has not been conclusively established, although Mr Galloway has made his own suggestion as to what it might be (see para 79 below) and other relevant evidence is also set out later in this report (see paras 88-97 below).  Back

162   Court Evidence, day 2.  Back

163   Court Evidence.  Back

164   Court Evidence, day 1. Back

165   HC Deb 8 May 2006, col 144. Back

166   The principal document published by the Telegraph on 23 April 2003 was the Presidential response (see para 4 above). The paper also published on that day a facsimile of a letter addressed to Canon Andrew White which it said had been found in the Iraqi files.  Back

167   HC Deb, 8 May 2006, col 145.  Back

168   IbidBack

169   Volume II, WE 73. Back

170   Volume II, WE 10.  Back

171   Volume II, WE 14. Back

172   Volume II, WE 16. Back

173   Volume II, WE 11. Back

174   Volume II, WE 12. Back

175   Volume II, WE 13.  Back

176   Volume II, WE 15.  Back

177   Volume II, WE 17. Back

178   See letters of 13 July 2006, 15 August 2006, 11 September 2006 and 20 October 2006, the texts of which are reproduced as Volume II, WE 77, 79, 81 and 84. Back

179   Volume II, WE 73. Back

180   Volume II, WE 84.  Back

181   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Qq 397-412. Back

182   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Qq 413-414. Back

183   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 401. Back

184   Volume II, WE 18. Back

185   Letter of 23 February 2007 from Mr Bays, not printed. Back

186   The text of my letter, dated 13 February 2007, is at Volume II, WE 19. Back

187   Volume II, WE 71.  Back

188   Volume II, WE 18. Back

189   Letter of 1 March 2007, not printed. Back

190   Volume II, WE 64. Back

191   Court Evidence, day 2.  Back

192   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 3, Qq 352-353.  Back

193   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 3, Q 312. Mr Galloway thought he had written this letter in 2000, but was unable to put a more precise date on it (Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 506). Back

194   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 3, Q 341. For further relevant evidence, see paras 88-97 below. Back

195   Court Evidence, day 3, p 7.  Back

196   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 2, Q 239.  Back

197   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 2, Q 244.  Back

198   In spite of several efforts, I was unable to establish contact with Mr Wihaib to confirm this evidence. Back

199   HC Deb, 25 November 1998, cols 144-156.  Back

200   Volume II, WE 21. Back

201   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence3, Qq 345-7. Back

202   Volume II, WE 90.  Back

203   Volume II, WE 103. Back

204   Volume II, WE 22. Back

205   See paras 109-113 below. The results of the forensic examination of the document can be found at Volume II, WE 32, para 36. Back

206   Volume II, WE 25.  Back

207   Volume II, WE 26. Back

208   Volume II, WE 27. Back

209   Volume II, WE 28. Back

210   Volume II, WE 108. Back

211   Volume II, WE 110.  Back

212   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence3, Q 341. Back

213   Translations of these two documents are at Volume II, WE 23 and Volume II, WE 24 respectively. Back

214   Volume II, WE 112.  Back

215   Volume II, WE 114 (letter of 8 May 2007). Back

216   The text of my letter is at Volume II, WE 29. Back

217   Volume II, WE 30.  Back

218   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Qq 418-419. Back

219   See para 19 above. Back

220   These are stray marks which appear on a document in the course of copying it, for example as a result of sratches on the screen of the copier on which the document is copied. Back

221   Dated 2 May 2000, attached to the Izzat Ibrahim memorandum dated 6 May 2000. See paras 10-11 above. Back

222   The text of Dr Giles's initial report is at Volume II, WE 31. Back

223   See, for example, Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 3, Q 306. Back

224   Letter of 1 November 2006, Volume II, WE 87. Back

225   The translator also, at my request, checked the published translations of the Telegraph documents. Back

226   Volume II, WE 98. Back

227   Volume II, WE 101. Back

228   Volume II, WE 103. Back

229   Volume II, WE 116. In what precise respects my account is misleading, Mr Galloway did not disclose. Back

230   Volume II, WE 33. Back

231   This access has been granted consistent with Section 10 of the 1993 Act.  Back

232   In December 2005, the Charity Commission opened a further inquiry into whether any funds donated to the Appeal originated from transactions under the Oil for Food Programme, the legal status of these funds and the extent to which the trustees discharged their duties and responsibilities in accepting them. At the time of completion of this report, the results of this second Charity Commission inquiry into the Mariam Appeal had not been published.  Back

233   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 3, Q 366.  Back

234   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Sabah Al-Mukhtar.  Back

235   The full text of the constitution is at Volume II, WE 34. Back

236   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 461. Back

237   The text of these minutes is reproduced at Volume II, WE 35.  Back

238   Dr Abu-Zayyad was, at this point, the wife of Mr Galloway. Back

239   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Sabah Al-Mukhtar, paras 12-13.  Back

240   Ibid, paras 13-18.  Back

241   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Stuart Halford, paras 14-20. Back

242   Ibid, para 31.  Back

243   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Sabah Al-Mukhtar, paras 21 and 24.  Back

244   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Stuart Halford, para 14.  Back

245   Ibid, para 16.  Back

246   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 420. Back

247   Ibid, Agreed Note of Meeting with Stuart Halford, para 29.  Back

248   Court Evidence. Back

249   This included relatively minor sums of interest. Back

250   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Stuart Halford, para 50. A further donation of £20,000 was made to the Appeal by the Saudi Royal Embassy in London on or around 23 November 2000.  Back

251   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 3, Q 380. See also Mr Galloway's letter of 17 January 2005 at Volume II, WE 64. Back

252   Hearing on 18 May 2005, in response to a question from Senator Norm Coleman.  Back

253   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 3 and Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Stuart Halford.  Back

254   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Stuart Halford, para 45.  Back

255   Ibid, Para 56.  Back

256   Not printed. Back

257   Volume II, WE 36.  Back

258   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Stuart Halford, paras 41_-43. Back

259   Volume II, WE 87. Back

260   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 432. Back

261   Volume II, WE 103. Back

262   When I enquired of Mr Galloway whether the Appeal ever kept books in any conventional sense, he replied "With respect, that is none of your business and it is none of anyone else's business". Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 451. Back

263   Volume II, WE 33. Back

264   Not printed. Back

265   There was, in addition, a three day trip to Baghdad in November 2000, the cost of which was not recorded in the letter. Back

266   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Stuart Halford, para 67. Back

267   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 474. Back

268   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Stuart Halford, para 8. Back

269   Volume II, WE 36. Back

270   Volume II, WE 116. Back

271   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Stuart Halford, para 25. Back

272   See, for example, his letter of 11 May 2007 at Volume II, WE 116. Back

273   Ibid, Q 478. Back

274   Volume II, WE 36. Back

275   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Q 481. Back

276   Volume II, WE 37.  Back

277   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Stuart Halford. Back

278   Ibid, para 22.  Back

279   Ibid, paras 20-22.  Back

280   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Qq 421-23. Back

281   Ibid, Q 421. Back

282   Volume II, WE 103. Back

283   Ibid. Back

284   In addition, Mr Zureikat was himself allocated 5 million barrels.  Back

285   Paras 175-184 above.  Back

286   IIC Report, Chapter 2, V, A.2 (Volume II, WE 38). Mr Tariq Aziz's lawyer subsequently issued a statement on his client's behalf denying that Mr Galloway had received money under the Programme (see para 205 below).  Back

287   Report on Programme Manipulation, 27 October 2005, p 82-83. Back

288   According to SOMO records, the contract with Fortum in respect of this allocation was dated 29 December 1999. Back

289   The transcript of my interview with Dr Al-Chalabi on 20 April 2006 is at Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence1. My letter of 9 January 2006 to Dr Al-Chalabi, his reply of 10 February 2006 and my further letter of 23 February 2006 are at Volume II, WE 39-41 respectively. I have already recorded my later exchanges with Dr Al-Chalabi about Mr Galloway's alleged "programme of work" (see paras 91-92 above). Back

290   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 1, Q 169.  Back

291   Mr Zureikat was also in Baghdad at this time, staying at the same hotel as Mr Galloway (see Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 505). Back

292   During our interview on 30 November 2006, Mr Galloway said that he did not recollect meeting Mr Aziz and the Minister for Health with Dr Al-Chalabi, but it was "highly likely" that he had done so (Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 592). Back

293   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 1, Q 40.  Back

294   Ibid, Q 54 and Qq 81-85.  Back

295   Ibid, Q 58.  Back

296   Ibid, Qq 114-117. Back

297   Ibid, Q 96. Back

298   Ibid, Q 100. Back

299   Ibid, Qq 107-110. Back

300   Ibid, Qq 129-136.  Back

301   Ibid, Qq 131-135.  Back

302   Ibid, Qq 87-90. Back

303   The full text of these reports (1) Report on Oil Allocations granted to Charles Pasqua and George Galloway, and (2) Report concerning the Testimony of George Galloway before the Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations can be read at www.access.gpo.gov/congress/senate/pdf/109hrg/21438.pdf and 24445.pdf (p 132) respectively.  Back

304   The IIC report of 27 October includes a facsimile of a letter addressed to SOMO's director, signed by Mr Zureikat and dated 13 January 2001, in which Mr Zureikat said "I give permission to the Aredio Company to contract for the quantity specified for me (Mariam Campaign) that is three million barrels until the end of February 2001". Back

305   In total, Taurus paid commissions of $1,034,650.10 in connection with contract M/10/38, of which Mr Zureikat paid $825,822.25 as illegal surcharges to the then Iraqi regime and approximately $56,000 to the Mariam Appeal.  Back

306   See para173 above.  Back

307   See section II of the Sub-Committee's report of 25 October 2005.  Back

308   Mr Galloway's e-mail to the IIC of 17 October 2005, Volume II, WE 42.  Back

309   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Qq 593-601. I have made several attempts to contact Dr Abu Zayyad, including through her legal adviser, Mr Sabah Al-Mukhtar, in order to explore this with her, but none have proved successful. She is, I understand, currently living in the Middle East. Back

310   Volume II, WE 4.  Back

311   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 3, Qq 309-312 and 319-322.  Back

312   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Stuart Halford, paras 32-33.  Back

313   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 505. Back

314   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 3, Q 325.  Back

315   Volume II, WE 52.  Back

316   Court Evidence, day 1.  Back

317   Volume II, WE 66.  Back

318   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 491. Back

319   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Stuart Halford, para 55.  Back

320   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 576. Back

321   US Senate Report of 25 October 2005, p 13. For Mr Aziz's subsequent denial of his reported evidence, see paras 204-205 below.  Back

322   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 1, Qq 104-106 and Q 165. Dr Al-Chalabi stated that the payment was to help Mr Amin to assist needy Iraqi nationals in London.  Back

323   Volume II, WE 7.  Back

324   Volume II, WE 8.  Back

325   Report concerning the testimony of George Galloway before the Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations, 25 October 2005, p 8.  Back

326   Ibid, p 13.  Back

327   Ibid, p 15.  Back

328   Ibid, p 17.  Back

329   Ibid, p 18.  Back

330   Ibid, p 19.  Back

331   Volume II, WE 38, p 50 and footnote 144.  Back

332   See, for example, a report in the Independent on Sunday for 30 October 2005. The Glasgow Herald reported on 29 October 2005 that, following a lengthy meeting in Paris with lawyers acting for Mr Aziz, Mr Galloway had said: "Tariq Aziz absolutely denies ever saying that I benefited from oil deals or that I talked to him about oil allocations". As I have mentioned earlier, my own efforts to put questions on these matters to Mr Aziz have proved unsuccessful. Back

333   Volume II, WE 38, p 52. Back

334   Sub-Committee report of 25 October 2005, p 23-24.  Back

335   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Stuart Halford. Back

336   Ibid, paras 55-56.  Back

337   Ibid, para 59.  Back

338   Ibid, para 64.  Back

339   I n his letter of 11 May 2007 (Volume II, WE 116), Mr Galloway claimed that I had flown Mr Zureikat to London for this interview, "presumably at Parliament's expense". In fact, the interview was conducted during a business trip Mr Zureikat made at his own expense. Back

340   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 5, Q 629.  Back

341   Ibid, Qq 730 and 771.  Back

342   Ibid, Qq 621-623.  Back

343   Ibid, Qq 633-635 and 658-659.  Back

344   Ibid, Q 636.  Back

345   Ibid, Q 636 and following  Back

346   Attempts to trace and interview Mr Al-Shanti himself have proved unsuccessful.  Back

347   Volume II, WE 43. Back

348   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 544.  Back

349   A translation of this document is at Volume II, WE 44. In his letter of 11 May 2007 (Volume II, PCS Written Evidence 116), Mr Galloway says that Mr Fawaz Zureikat has denied ever writing such a note. Back

350   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 5, Qq 655-658.  Back

351   Ibid, Qq 660-664.  Back

352   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 5, Qq 664-671. Back

353   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 5, Qq 698-702. Back

354   Ibid, Qq 702-705. Back

355   Ibid, Qq 718-719 and 747.  Back

356   Ibid, Qq 748-753.  Back

357   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Stuart Halford, para 58.  Back

358   See, for example, Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 5, Qq 621-628 and Qq 730-738.  Back

359   Ibid, Qq 768-771.  Back

360   Volume II, WE 87. Back

361   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Qq 508. Back

362   Volume II, WE 116. Back

363   Letter of 5 March 2007, Volume II, WE 103. Back

364   Volume II, WE 116. Back

365   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Qq 535. See also Mr Galloway's letter of 5 March 2007 at Volume II, WE 103. Back

366   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 552. Back

367   Letter of 11 May 2007, Volume II, WE 116. Back

368   Volume II, WE 87. Back

369   Ibid, Qq 507-558. Back

370   Ibid, Q 514. Back

371   Ibid, Qq 517-520. Mr Galloway was, however, in Baghdad in October 2001, as he registered on 29 October 2001 a "four day humanitarian visit to Iraq", paid for by the Mariam Appeal. Back

372   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 552. Back

373   Ibid, Q 527. Back

374   Ibid, Q 536. See also the section on "the untraceable Mr Shanti" in Mr Galloway's letter of 5 March 2007 at Volume II, WE 103. Back

375   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 538. See also Q 547. Back

376   Ibid, Q 558. Back

377   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 5, Qq 702-705. Back

378   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 550. Back

379   Volume II, WE 116. Back

380   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Qq 664-668 Back

381   Ibid Q 669 and Volume II, WE 116. Back

382   Ibid Q 717 and Volume II, WE 116. Back

383   Their first meeting had taken place in 1994.  Back

384   Mail on Sunday, 11 August 2002; I'm Not the Only One, Penguin, 2005. Back

385   Volume II, WE 45. Back

386   Ibid Back

387   Mr Galloway criticised me for having sprung the document on him (Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 586) and Letter of 5 March 2007 (Volume II, WE 103). I explained in my letter of 14 March (Volume II, WE 104) that I did not think I was under any obligation to show him the document prior to the meeting and in the circumstances it had seemed sensible to await that meeting and to show him the document then, always provided he not only had the opportunity of the meeting but ample time thereafter to comment on it. Back

388   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 583. Back

389   Ibid, Q 585. Back

390   Ibid, Qq 590-91. Back

391   Volume II, WE 104 and 116.  Back

392   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 564. Back

393   Volume II, WE 46. Back

394   Volume II, WE 103. Back

395   There is an apparent inaccuracy in the report in the Times in that it seems to refer to January 2003 rather than August 2002 as the date of Mr Galloway's meeting with the former President. Back

396   Volume II, WE 103. Back

397   Volume II, WE 107. Mr Galloway refers in that letter to the present Iraqi Government as "a partial coterie, which includes proven liars and convicted thieves". Back

398   Volume II, WE 116. Back

399   Volume II, WE 107. Back

400   Volume II, WE 116. Back

401   For Tony Zureikat's account see Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 5, Q 664ff. Back

402   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 5, Q 669. Back

403   Volume II, WE 45. Back

404   There is some evidence that the former Iraqi President taped at least some of his meetings. (See for example, a report in the Sunday Times of 19 March 2006.) However, this does not point conclusively to how the written record of this particular meeting was created. Back

405   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 602. Back

406   Ibid, Q 603. Back

407   Ibid, Q 605. Back

408   Ibid Q 609. Back

409   Letter of 15 January 2007, Volume II, WE 95. Back

410   Letter of 23 March 2007, Volume II, WE 105. Back

411   E-mail referred to in Volume II, WE 47. Back

412   Volume II, WE 48. Back

413   The changes included the even division of the Committee's membership between Government and Opposition parties and the exclusion of Parliamentary Private Secretaries from membership of the Committee. Back

414   Volume II, WE 50. Back

415   Volume II, WE 52. Back

416   Volume II, WE 56. Back

417   See for example, letter of 17 January 2005, Volume II, WE 64. Back

418   Committee on Standards and Privileges, Seventh Report of Sesson 2005-06, Conduct of Mr George Galloway, HC 1067. In his letter of 28 April 2006 (Volume II, WE 67), Mr Galloway referred to my memorandum to the Committee on that matter as "your absurd report into my legally administered repayable legal fund". Back

419   See Volume II, WE 69. Back

420   Volume II, WE 70. Back

421   Volume II, WE 84. Back

422   See Mr Galloway's letter of 17 May 2006 (Volume II, WE 71) and my reply of 18 May (Volume II, WE 72). Back

423   Volume II, WE 82. Back

424   Volume II, WE 81. Back

425   Volume II, WE 94 and 95. Back

426   Volume II, WE 100. Back

427   Volume II, WE 114. Se also my reply of 14 May 2007 (Volume II, WE 115). By 11 May, however, Mr Galloway has reverted to his former argument (Volume II, WE 116). Back

428   See, for example, the last para of Mr Galloway's letter of 25 January 2007 (Volume II, WE 97). Back

429   Volume II, WE 96. Back

430   Volume II, WE 100. Back

431   See Volume II, WE 98, 103 and100. Back

432   Volume II, WE 103. Back

433   See, for example, Volume II, WE 54, 55, 100 and 102. Back

434   Volume II, WE 47-117. Back

435   Volume II, WE 116. Back

436   Volume II, WE 116. Back

437   HC Deb, 8 May 2006, col 145. Back

438   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Qq 413-414. Back

439   Ibid, Q 401. Back

440   Volume II, WE 18. Back

441   Volume II, WE 17. Back

442   I refer here to the documents obtained by the Christian Science Monitor and the Mail on Sunday. Back

443   Volume II, WE 64. Back

444   Volume II, WE 32.  Back

445   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 3, Qq 297-298 and Volume II, WE 103. Back

446   Volume II, WE 30. Back

447   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Qq 418-419. Back

448   Volume II, WE 103. Back

449   See respectively Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 451 and Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Sabah Al-Mukhtar, para 18. Back

450   See paras 153-159 above. Back

451   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Qq 421 and 423. Back

452   See Volume III, Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Stuart Halford, para 9; Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Sabah Al-Mukhtar, para 18; and Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 461.  Back

453   See paras 131-133 above. Back

454   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 3, Q 352 and para 127 above. Back

455   Early in 2000, according to Mr Halford (see Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Note of Meeting with Stuart Halford, para 31). Back

456   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 420. Back

457   See paras 142-145 above. Back

458   Letter of 5 March 2007, Volume II, WE 103. Back

459   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 603. Back

460   For details of this contract and payment, see paras 175-184 above. For Mr Galloway's evidence on the Al-Chalabi payment, see para 190. Back

461   Report concerning the testimony of George Galloway before the Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations, 25 October 2005, p 27-29. Back

462   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Qq 593-601 and statement by Mr Ron McKay on behalf of Mr Galloway reported in the Sunday Telegraph of 30 October 2005. Mr McKay is said to have stated: "On the question of his wife, who he has split up with, they have always maintained separate bank accounts. He knew that she was raising funds for her work as a research scientist into the causes of childhood cancer but he has absolutely no knowledge of these alleged payments". Back

463   Letter of 1 November 2006, Volume II, WE 87. Back

464   See para 224(a) above. Back

465   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 602. Back

466   Committee on Standards and Privileges, Second Report of Session 2000-01, Complaint against Mr John Maxton and Dr John Reid, HC 89, para 20. Back

467   Committee on Standards and Privileges, Third Report of Session 2002-03, Complaints against Mr Michael Trend, HC 435 and Committee on Standards and Privileges, Fourth Report of Session 2003-04, Conduct of Mr Iain Duncan Smith, HC 476. Back

468   See para 224(c) above. Back

469   See paras 84-87 above. Back

470   Volume II, WE 32. Back

471   Volume II, WE 110. Back

472   Volume II, WE 114. Back

473   Volume III, Oral Evidence, Q 311. Back

474   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 420. Back

475   See paras 142-145 above. Back

476   See para 276 above. Back

477   See para 183 above. Back

478   See para 186(a) above. Back

479   See the table reproduced at para 171 above. Back

480   See para 173 above. Back

481   See para 186 a) and b) above. Back

482   See paras 150-152 above. Back

483   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 605. Back

484   Ibid, Qq 605 and 607. Back

485   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 608. Back

486   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 608. Back

487   Ibid, Q 609. Back

488   Ibid, Q 603. Back

489   See, for example, Volume II, WE 95 and Volume II, WE 98. Back

490   See Annex 2 and para 186 c) above (and its accompanying footnote). Back

491   See paras 91 and 93 above. Back

492   See para 181 above. Back

493   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 1, Q 58. Back

494   Ibid, Q 104. Back

495   Volume III, Oral Evidence 4, Q 420. Back

496   Volume III, Oral Evidence 3, Q 312. Back

497   Ibid, Qq 364-367. Back

498   Ibid, Agreed Note of Meeting with Stuart Halford, para 56. Back

499   Paras 293-302 above. Back

500   Paragaphs 94 and 97 above. Back

501   HC 351, Session 2005-06; see also HC 688, Session 1995-96. Back

502   Para 31 above and Volume II, WE 9. Back

503   Paras 130-141 above. Back

504   The foreign government support to which Mr Galloway referred were the donations from the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Back

505   See para 183 above. Back

506   Committee on Standards and Privileges, Ninth Report of Session 2001-02, HC 763; Committee on Standards in Public Life, Sixth Report, Com 455T. Back

507   For details of two relevant proceedings, see para 37 above. Back

508   Volume II, WE 116. Back

509   Para 311 above. Back

510   Mr Galloway has argued that it was far more damaging to him that the Mariam Appeal received money from the King of Saudi Arabia (Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Q 608). However had it became known that the Mariam Appeal was being supported financially by the very government which stood to gain most from the lifting of sanctions, its credibility would have been significantly undermined. Mr Galloway himself acknowledged the potential damage to his own credibility and that of the Mariam Appeal during our interview on 24 February 2005 (Ibid, Q 312). Back

511   Cm2850, page 14. Back

512   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Q 603. Back

513   Volume II, WE 116. Back

514   Ibid Back

515   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Q 451. Back

516   Volume II, WE 62. Back

517   See para 142 above. Back

518   Volume II, WE 116. Back

519   Volume II, WE 103. Back

520   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Qq 422-23. Back

521   Volume II, WE 103. Back

522   See para 160(c) above. Back

523   A similar provision appeared in the Code as approved by the House on 24 July 1996 and in the Code approved on 14 May 2002. Back

524   Remarks attributed to Mr Kevin Ovenden in the 'Socialist Worker' of 17 May 2003. Back

525   Volume II, WE 87. Back

526   Volume II, WE 98 and para 116 above. Back

527   See para 59 above. Back

528   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence, Q 508. See also paras 155-159 above in relation to Mr Halford. Back

529   Volume II, WE 116. Back

530   Volume II, WE 98. Back

531   Volume II, WE 116. Back

532   See para 252(a) above and Volume II, WE 114. Back

533   Volume II, WE 103. Back

534   Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 4, Q 609. Back


 
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