The libel case against the Daily Telegraph brought by George Galloway MP has finally come to court. It will run in court for five days, from 16 November, and then there will probably be some delay until the judge’s verdict.
The Telegraph argues that it does not need to prove that what was written in official Iraqi documents which its correspondent David Blair claimed he found in Baghdad, but that it had a journalistic right and duty to publish the documents.
The central political issue here for socialists is not whether the documents published in the Telegraph were genuine or forgeries.
In his reply to the Telegraph at the time, 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 explanation? 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 Fawwaz 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.