Sunday, July 15, 2007

Galloway to be suspended from Commons over Iraq?

According to the Sunday Times today Respect MP George Galloway is to be suspended from the Commons this Tuesday. They state;

"The parliamentary standards watchdog will rule this week that Galloway failed properly to declare his links to a charitable appeal partially funded from money made by selling Iraqi oil under Saddam Hussein, according to a source close to the inquiry. The one-month suspension for Galloway, often referred to as “Gorgeous George”, is one of the most severe given to an MP...

"In 1998 Galloway founded the Mariam Appeal, which campaigned for the lifting of sanctions on Iraq. The appeal, which paid Galloway’s wife and funded international travel for the MP, received almost £450,000 from Fawaz Zureikat, a Jordanian businessman who was also a trustee of the appeal. It subsequently emerged that more than half of this money came from the proceeds of Iraqi oil sales. An investigation by the American Senate alleged that the Mariam Appeal was used by the Iraqi regime to finance Galloway.

"However, the MP strenuously denies that he was complicit in any such arrangement and claims he is the victim of a smear campaign. He says he had no idea that the money donated had come from Iraqi oil sales.

"The Mariam Appeal, which raised more than £1.4m, has never filed any accounts and the parliamentary authorities have been unable to account for some of the expenditure."

Respect have issued this statement in response;

"The Sunday Times this morning ran a front page story claiming on the basis of an ‘authoritative’ source that George Galloway is to be suspended from the House of Commons for a month. If this is so, and we won’t know definitively until the Parliamentary Standards Committee meets on Tuesday, it will be the culmination of a four year campaign against George over the Mariam Appeal, the campaign he set up to end the sanctions against Iraq which cost on most estimates the lives of a million people.

"We know the committee has cleared George of any allegation of personal gain from the Appeal, just as the Charity Commission did, once again, a few weeks ago. The committee judging George, however, is composed of MPs almost all of whom voted for the war and includes two prominent members of the Labour Friends of Israel. In the context of even stalwart Republicans losing faith in the US/UK occupation of Iraq and the complete vindication of everything that George, as one of the most prominent anti-war leaders, predicted, it is hardly surprising that this kangaroo court will seek to impose some penalty on George.

"We will provide you with a briefing on the Committee’s report as soon as we are able."

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