GEORGE GALLOWAY, the MP who campaigned against the Iraq war, is to be suspended from parliament over his links to the United Nations oil-for-food programme in Iraq.
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.
Galloway, who was expelled from Labour, is now an MP for the Respect party. He may also be asked to apologise to the Commons for his behaviour but will launch a robust defence of his conduct. He denies any wrongdoing.
The UN oil-for-food programme was set up to allow Saddam to sell Iraqi oil to buy humanitarian supplies, but he corruptly awarded oil contracts to politicians and businessmen around the world.
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.
About bloody time! I hope the Gormless One's next stop is a prison cell.