Support George Galloway
michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Wed May 28 04:59:30 MDT 2003
Galloway: I can't afford libel action without help
MP claims appeal to pay for legal battle has been positive
The Herald, 28 May 2003
GEORGE Galloway admitted yesterday he has insufficient means to launch legal
action against newspapers which alleged he received money from Saddam
Hussein, but claimed a large number of people have offered financial support
to help him clear his name.
Mr Galloway, the controversial Glasgow MP who has set up a fund to help pay
for the legal costs of any libel action against the papers, said he had
received a positive response to an appeal for financial assistance,
including substantial payments from supporters in London and Glasgow.
He denied that a letter he wrote to friends and supporters asking for help
amounted to a begging letter.
Speaking to The Herald after meeting two former Lebanese prime ministers in
Beirut and delivering a speech on the Middle East in the Bekkaa valley
yesterday, Mr Galloway said: "I have taken this step because the enemies I
am fighting are extremely rich and powerful and I don't myself have anything
remotely like the means to take them on without asking my friends for
Mr Galloway ended the interview, saying: "Do you know I am paying for these
calls? You will have to forgive me, this is costing me about £3 a minute
The Daily Telegraph and the Christian Science Monitor said they had
uncovered documents claiming he received money from Saddam's regime.
The Daily Telegraph last month claimed it had discovered a memo in the
foreign ministry in Baghdad from a senior Iraqi intelligence officer which
stated that Mr Galloway was being paid £375,000 a year by Iraq.
That was followed by allegations in the Boston-based Christian Science
Monitor which claimed documents found in a house owned by one of Saddam's
sons showed $10m had been paid to Mr Galloway from 1992 until this year.
The MP has written to supporters claiming that the allegations are false and
politically motivated and said: "With the support of my friends I intend to
fight this. I hope I can count on you as one of those friends."
During the interview, he said that even before the letter went out he had
received a very spirited response "and the postman is being kept busy going
up and down the stairs to my lawyers' office".
"I don't know the quantum in terms of money because it doesn't come to me,
it goes straight to the lawyers," he said.
"All I know is that there have been hundreds of letters and the most
significant donations have been one for £1000 from Lewisham in south London
from a person who heard me speak and one for £500 from Bearsden from someone
I have never met or heard of before. So I am really pleased."
Mr Galloway added: "I don't want these rich and powerful newspapers to think
that just because they have deeper pockets than me that they can exhaust me.
I was sure that there would be a big public response and so it has turned
out to be.
"When the billionaire press slanders a person who only has their salary to
live on inevitably that is a mismatch.
"Of course no-one is obliged to help me fight the case but the early signs
are that a very large number of people very much want to do so."
He referred all questions about his possible legal action to his solicitors,
but they declined to comment.
However, sources at the Daily Telegraph, which also declined to comment
officially on the matter, said no writ or legal proceedings had yet been
issued against them by solicitors acting for Mr Galloway.
Mr Galloway said: "I don't know what stage they are at but I fully intend to
challenge this in the courts. They are lies of fantastic proportions."
A spokesman for the Labour Party yesterday declined to comment on Mr
Galloway's appeal saying: "That's a matter for George."
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