I’ll maybe post something on the wider implications of the allegations made against Galloway later on but central to the whole affair of his behaviour in general, rather than specific allegation made by the Telegraph, is the charity/campaigning group the Mariam Appeal. So I’ve done a bit of googling to see what can be found out in the public domain.
According to this report Galloway flew Iraqi child Mariam Hamza, who was suffering from leukemia from Iraq to a children’s hospital in Glasgow and launched a public appeal for money using her name. The Times say that on House of Commons notepaper, he wrote to donors telling them that the money would all go on hospital fees for Mariam and medical care for other Iraqi children.
But the fund, which is not a charity and refuses to divulge its accounts or trustees, has so far paid for 14 trips by Mr Galloway to 15 countries, including eight visits to Iraq, say The Times.
Where has the money come from? Well, for the first time, Galloway tells us in the Telegraph today
He said the three main funders were the government of the United Arab Emirates, the government of Saudi Arabia and Fawaz Zureikat, the man named in the (alleged) Iraqi intelligence document as the appeal’s representative in Baghdad.
Asked about its income, he said: “I would have said that its total funding over its whole life was round about an Ecclestone [referring to Bernie Ecclestone, the Labour donor], around £1 million over five years, more than half of which came from the government of the United Arab Emirates.”
So, regardless of whether you believe the intelligence report found by the Telegraph is true or a fake, or a stitch-up job (and we will likely found out in court) Galloway’s political campaigns have been funded by some rather unsavoury sources.
What did the campaign do with the Saudi-UAE cash?
Interestingly there is no mention of the Mariam Campaign in Galloway’s most recent declaration of interests. It appears the little-known Great Britain Iraq Society, which Galloway chairs, has become the major provider of his expenses.
According to this article, which seems to promote the society, those interested in joining the Great Britian Iraq Society are asked to contact – the Mariam Campaign. And a circulated letter from Galloway to left activists, found on this site, has the address of the society to be c/o the Mariam Campaign.
update: the BBC has quite a decent claims and rebuttal item about Gorgeousgate – a good bet if you just want the matter summing up