Galloway sues over Saddam claims News Headlines: Britain
Published: 27-Jun-03; 17:08
MP George Galloway has issued High Court libel proceedings against The Daily Telegraph over a claim that he was in the pay of Saddam Hussein.
Mr Galloway has always strenuously denied that he took any money from the Iraqi regime.
Last week, the suspended Labour MP said that Prime Minister Tony Blair should investigate forged documents which alleged he took millions of pounds from Saddam Hussein.
He was suspended from the Labour Party over comments he made in an interview to an Arab television station. Mr Galloway branded Mr Blair and US President George Bush as "wolves".
Both the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner and the Charity Commissioners have begun investigations since the Iraqi cash allegations were made.
The rebel politician said he was the victim of a conspiracy after a newspaper publicly apologised for accusing the MP of taking money from the deposed regime.
The Christian Science Monitor previously reported on its website that Mr Galloway had been given money by the deposed Baghdad regime to promote interests in the west.
But it has now reported that an "extensive investigation" had revealed the six papers which formed the basis for the story were forgeries.
In a recent statement, Charles Moore, editor of the Daily Telegraph, said: "The Christian Science Monitor's retraction has no bearing on The Daily Telegraph's story.
"Our story was based on a different set of documents found in a different set of circumstances.
"They were not supplied or given to us but unearthed by our reporter, David Blair, in the foreign ministry in Baghdad."
He added: "The CSM's documents were produced in the wake of our story by a mysterious figure using a pseudonym. They purported to be torn from official files but there was no evidence to support their authenticity."
Mr Moore went on: "We were offered them but declined to publish them. We note that the experts employed by the CSM pronounced that the documents on which our story was based appeared to be genuine.
"We have complete confidence in our story, our reporter and the authenticity of our documents."
Mr Galloway rejected the apology from the Christian Science Monitor and pledged to continue his legal action against the newspaper.
He said recently: "I said from the beginning that these allegations were based on malice, fabrication and forgery and that they would soon fall apart under scrutiny. That is now beginning to happen."
The newspaper said two of the "oldest" documents - dated to 1992 and 1993 - were actually written within the past few months.
CSM editor Paul Van Slambrouck said: "At the time we published these documents, we felt they were newsworthy and appeared credible, although we did explicitly state in our article that we could not guarantee their authenticity.
"It is important to set the record straight. We are convinced the documents are bogus. We apologise to Mr Galloway and to our readers."