Newspaper apologises to Galloway over 'Saddam millions' forgeries

From the www.monabaker.com archive (legacy material)

Vik Iyer | The Independent | 20 June 2003

Suspended Labour MP George Galloway today attacked a newspaper which has apologised for claiming the anti–war campaigner had taken millions of pounds from Saddam Hussein. Mr Galloway insisted that he always knew the allegations were based on "malice, fabrication and forgery" and would "soon fall apart". The Christian Science Monitor previously reported on its website that Mr Galloway had been given millions of dollars by the deposed Baghdad regime to promote interests in the west. But it has now reported that an "extensive investigation" had revealed the six papers which formed the basis for the story were forgeries. The newspaper said two of the "oldest" documents – dated to 1992 and 1993 – were actually written within the past few months. Paul Van Slambrouck, Monitor editor, said: "At the time we published these documents, we felt they were newsworthy and appeared credible, although we did explicitly state in our article that we could not guarantee their authenticity. "It is important to set the record straight. We are convinced the documents are bogus. We apologise to Mr Galloway and to our readers." The rebel politician said he was the victim of a conspiracy after a newspaper publicly apologised for accusing the MP of taking money from the deposed regime. He also rejected the apology from the Christian Science Monitor and pledged to continue his legal action against the newspaper. In a statement, he said: "I want to know who forged these documents. "I am calling on the Prime Minister, as head of the co–occupying power in Iraq, to investigate how this conspiracy came about. "As a member of the House of Commons, indeed as a British subject, I have the right to the protection of the British intelligence services from a conspiracy hatched by persons unknown but whose handiwork was conducted in foreign territory co–occupied by Great Britain." Mr Galloway added: "I don't accept their apology. Firstly, a newspaper of their international standing should have conducted these basic checks on the authenticity of these documents before they published them and not more than two months afterwards. "This internationally–renowned newspaper published on its front page, in virtually every country in the world, that I took 10 million dollars from Saddam Hussein, based on papers which have proved to be forgeries. "They did not even speak to me before publishing these allegations. My legal action against them continues." Mr Galloway was suspended from the Labour Party over comments he made in an interview to an Arab television station. He branded Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George Bush as "wolves". Both the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, and the Charity Commission, have begun investigations since the Iraqi cash allegations were made.