George Galloway has won his libel case against the Daily Telegraph. The judge declared:
"Mr Galloway is entitled to be compensated for the manner in which the newspaper chose to put the documents into the public domain and the spin which the defendants [i.e. the newspaper] chose to put upon them."
Those were the issues the court case revolved around. The Daily Telegraph did not seek to prove beyond doubt that the documents were genuine - a virtually impossible task, requiring the resources of a state rather than those of even a big-circulation newspaper - and Galloway's lawyers did not seek to show that they were false.
The background political issues therefore remain unchanged. The Telegraph's journalistic methods have been censured. The tightness of the constraints that the peculiar British libel law puts on newspapers criticising rich people (who can afford to launch libel cases: poor people are a free-fire zone) has been demonstrated once again.
But the political issues about Galloway's financial relationships with reactionary regimes in the Middle East, and his warm political relations with Saddam's regime remain the same. (It is Galloway himself, not the Daily Telegraph, who said he had Christmas dinner with Saddam's deputy Tariq Aziz).
In his reply to the Telegraph when it first published its material, Galloway wrote: "If newspaper critics had focused on the incongruity of a left-wing campaigner obtaining support for his campaigning organisations from semi-feudal monarchies and businessmen such as Mr Zureikat, who represented some of the world's biggest companies in Iraq, that would have been a legitimate line of attack - though my defence would have been that needs must" (Independent, 24 April 2003).
This was an admission that he obtained finance for his political activities from the semi-feudal monarchies of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, and the Ba'athist-connected businessman Fawaz Zureikat.
According to Galloway: "Around £500,000 came from the United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia gave £100,000 and... [of the rest] the bulk came from Zureikat".
His justification? He doesn't have one, only the argument that he needed such money to function politically.
The Guardian (17 February 2004) has published further charges about the funding of Galloway's political enterprises, and Galloway's colleague Fawaz Zureikat getting money from Saddam Hussein's oil revenues. Galloway has not sued the Guardian, and says only that he did not know that Zureikat got oil money from Saddam.