Galloway allegations false Iraq
By: Julian Rush
Suspended Labour MP, George Galloway, claimed he was a victim of conspiracy today as an American publication admitted the documents it based a story accusing the politician of taking money from Saddam Hussein were forged.
He rejected the apology from the Christian Science Monitor and said he would pursue legal action against the paper.
The front page retraction is deeply embarrassing for one of America's more respected newspapers. Its story in April alleging George Galloway had received payments from Saddam Hussein's regime totalling $10m over eleven-years based, it now admits, on bogus documents.
On Republican Guard stationary, they were alleged to have come from a home of Saddam's son, Qusay - from the Special Security Section that he ran.
They came from General Salah Abdel Rasool, a minor Republican Guard general. But when, in May, he sold other, obvious fakes about Mr Galloway to the Mail on Sunday, the Christian Science Monitor launched an investigation.
Textual analysis by experts with long experience of Iraqi official papers found glaring inconsistencies, not least in the dates, hand-written in almost identical fashion, despite purportedly spanning a decade.
Forensic examination of the ink confirmed they were fake: the allegedly ten-year-old ink as new as that on papers claimed to be from January this year.
The editor, Paul Van Slambrouck, was not available for interview, but in the paper he apologised to Mr Galloway:
Paul Van Slambrouck, editor CSM:
"We deemed the story itself important both because of its alleged substance and its timing... We strive to be truth-tellers... On this story we erred."
The story followed a few days after allegations that Mr Galloway was seeking payment from the Iraqis were revealed in the Daily Telegraph. Suddenly journalists in Baghdad went on the hunt for more incriminating paperwork.
Their reporter had found the papers in the burnt-out foreign ministry.
The same expert who condemned the Christian Science Monitor papers has seen the Telegraph papers and pronounced them more likely to be authentic.
The Telegraph stands by its story - Mr Galloway has threatened to sue the paper but has not yet served any writs.