Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Sixth Report


Mr Galloway's obligations to the House


53. Our sole concern is whether Mr Galloway has complied with his obligations as a Member of the House under the Code of Conduct, and the related obligations arising from the requirements of the House regarding registration and declaration of interests, and connected matters, such as the extent to which interests may inhibit a Member's freedom of action in relation to proceedings in the House. We are only concerned with matters relating to the operation and funding of the Mariam Appeal, and Mr Galloway's relationship with Mr Fawaz Zureikat, to the extent that they have a bearing on this matter.

54. The specific areas in which the Commissioner considers that Mr Galloway has failed to comply with his obligations are:

55. Of greater significance, the Commissioner concluded that Mr Galloway's actions have damaged the reputation of the House through the steps he took to secure funding for the work of the Mariam Appeal from the Iraqi government.[104] He is of the view that Mr Galloway "has consistently failed to live up to the expectation of openness and straightforwardness in responding to questions and in other dealings which is critical to the continued effectiveness of the House's self-regulatory conduct regime."[105] One important respect in which the Commissioner considers that Mr Galloway has failed to live up to these expectations is in his allegations concerning the motivation and reliability of various witnesses.

56. The first three points are independent of the question of how the Mariam Appeal was funded and can be disposed of relatively straightforwardly. In his oral evidence, Mr Galloway conceded[106] that "of course it would have been wiser" to have registered these interests. Through his access to the substantial resources generated by the Mariam Appeal, and by concentrating them on the campaigning aspect of the Appeal's objectives, Mr Galloway could reasonably be considered to be influenced in how he pursued his parliamentary activities in relation to seeking the lifting of sanctions against Iraq.

57. Given the overall scale of the Mariam Appeal and Mr Galloway's acknowledgement that it was a political campaign, we do not accept his assertion that "the Mariam Appeal in no way supported my role as a Member".[107] On the question of non-registration, we agree with the Commissioner that, given Mr Galloway's central role in managing and directing the Mariam Appeal, he should have registered it and also all donations it received above the threshold.[108]

58. On the question of Mr Galloway's failure to declare his interests consistently, he has accepted that he did indeed fail to do so and has apologised to us.[109] While we accept his point that his views on Iraq were well known both inside and outside the House, the requirement to declare is absolute, and he failed to meet fully the requirements of the House in this respect.

59. On the question of Mr Galloway's use of his parliamentary office and staff in support of the Mariam Appeal, he acknowledged that "because my campaign was bigger than most….you may conclude that the amount of use of staff and other resources was not normal." He maintained, though, that the staff member who accompanied him on the Big Ben to Baghdad bus was assisting him in fulfilling his parliamentary duties during that period.[110]

60. Mr Galloway also argued[111] that it would be "unwise" to measure the use of parliamentary time and resources against the maximum period of the Appeal's activities because its activities expanded after the move to separate offices in Northumberland Avenue. He said:[112]

    "In other words it was quite a small time campaign when it was briefly overlapping with my Millbank office."

61. As the Commissioner points out,[113] the period during which the Appeal was run from Mr Galloway's office was at least eight months. It covered the whole period of Mariam Hamza's initial treatment. There is also evidence that there was continued involvement by Mr Galloway's parliamentary staff even after the Mariam Appeal acquired separate premises.[114]

62. We accept that it can sometimes be difficult to draw a clear line between Members' support for an external political campaign as part of their parliamentary activities, and broader support for campaigns of a more general nature. In our view, there should be a presumption that Members' use for external campaigns of parliamentary facilities and resources provided at public expense should be both proportionate and incidental to the performance of their duties as Members of the House. We agree with the Commissioner that Mr Galloway's use of parliamentary facilities and resources in connection with the Mariam Appeal went beyond this.

63. We concur with the Commissioner, who makes clear in his memorandum that no evidence emerged from his enquiries that shows whether Mr Galloway has "directly and personally, unlawfully received moneys from the former Iraqi regime".[115]

64. On the specific areas referred to in paragraph 54, we now address the question of whether Mr Galloway breached the advocacy rule. This turns on whether he knew, or reasonably ought to have known, that the Iraqi government was in all probability behind the funding of the Mariam Appeal provided by Mr Fawaz Zureikat. Our conclusions on this and, in turn, other allegations that he brought the House into disrepute rest on a wider analysis of the evidence, to which we now turn.

65. If the Iraqi government had been funding the Mariam Appeal, either directly or indirectly through intermediaries, Mr Galloway would have been in breach of the advocacy rule in force at the time.[116] Also, if he were to have sought funding by an indirect route, so as to conceal from the House and the public the true source of funding of a campaign to end sanctions against Iraq, this would have reflected badly on Members generally and the House as an institution.

66. Essentially, the evidence in this case, while largely circumstantial, is also powerful. The Commissioner takes the view that, taken together, the evidence before him demonstrates that:

  • a substantial part of the donations made to the Mariam Appeal by Mr Zureikat came from moneys derived, via the Oil for Food Programme, from the former Iraqi regime, and that consequently Mr Galloway's political activities conducted through the Appeal were thus, in part, funded by the regime; and
  • Mr Galloway at best turned a blind eye to what was happening and, on balance, was likely to have known and been complicit in what was going on.

67. Mr Galloway rejected the notion that funding through the Oil for Food Programme could be described as "Iraqi money". This is, however, purely a matter of semantics: those selling oil under the programme first required options granted by the Iraqi government. While it was from commission earned on sales that actual resources were generated, the value stemmed from the granting of the option.

68. As we have demonstrated in this report, we agree with the Commissioner that there is strong circumstantial evidence that the Oil for Food Programme was used by the Iraqi government, with Mr Galloway's connivance, to fund the campaigning activities of the Mariam Appeal. In acting as he did, Mr Galloway breached the advocacy rule and damaged the reputation of the House. We believe he was complicit in the concealment of the true source of the funds for the Mariam Appeal. He was also in our view reckless in the terms of the authority he gave Mr Fawaz Zureikat to act in his name in relation to the Mariam Appeal. Further he was clearly irresponsible in refusing to enquire into the source of Mr Zureikat's substantial donations. His obligations to the House under the advocacy rule required nothing less, given the dependence of the Appeal at that point on those donations.

69. We turn now to Mr Galloway's response to these allegations and his behaviour during the inquiry. In essence, he maintains that the documents have been produced by his political enemies, with involvement by the intelligence services, to discredit his campaign to lift sanctions on Iraq. He maintains that Mr Robathan's complaint should in any event be dismissed because there is no evidence that he personally benefited from the funds from Iraq and that Mr Yale's complaint lacked substance.[117] The Commissioner has nevertheless explained[118] why he has suggested that Mr Robathan's complaint be upheld notwithstanding.

70. We agree with the Commissioner that his painstaking inquiry has revealed evidence that Mr Galloway has failed to comply with the requirements of the House in relation to the registration and declaration of interests in a number of material respects. We also agree with his conclusion that Mr Galloway has acted in several ways in a manner likely to bring the House into disrepute.

71. Mr Galloway's direct failures are in our view compounded by the attitude he has taken to others involved, the Commissioner, and the Committee. Some of those involving third parties are chronicled in the Commissioner's memorandum,[119] and there are others in the oral and written evidence. We are particularly concerned that, in his evidence to us, Mr Galloway was unwilling to acknowledge that what he had said in the House, under the protection of parliamentary privilege, about Mr Sherwell's alleged conversation with the unnamed journalist had subsequently been denied by Mr Sherwell.[120] We consider that he owes an apology to Mr David Blair for remarks made about him in the same debate.

72. We agree with the Commissioner that Mr Galloway's approach to the inquiry has been such as to damage the reputation of the House. His description of the Commissioner's memorandum as "laden with smear and innuendo"[121] is in our view quite unjustified, as was the allegation that the transcript of his interview with the Commissioner on 30 November 2005 had been falsified. We are satisfied that there has been no tampering whatever with the transcript and that, whatever remark may have been made, it was never recorded by the shorthand writer as part of the official record of the meeting.[122]

73. Mr Galloway has been quick to accuse others of inconsistency in their evidence, but he has himself given inconsistent evidence on a number of significant points, including his involvement in attempting to set up an Arab TV Channel;[123] on the authorship of letters;[124] on the Mariam Appeal's 'work programe'[125] and over whether he has ever been a signatory of the Mariam Appeal's bank accounts.[126] It is clear to us that he has not met the high standards that he expects of others in the quality of his evidence.

74. Mr Galloway has accused us of being a politicised tribunal[127] and of lacking impartiality.[128] We reject these accusations absolutely. As fellow parliamentarians, we resolutely defend the right of free speech and acknowledge the way Mr Galloway has put forward, in trenchant terms, his views on foreign policy in the Middle East. But this does not give him, or anyone else, a passport to behave in a way that brings the House into disrepute. The House has given us the responsibility for deciding on cases of alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct reported to us by the Commissioner after due investigation. It is central to maintaining public and parliamentary confidence in the self-regulating system that we do so on a non-partisan basis. We have approached this case no differently from any other.

Recommendations to the House

75. On Mr Galloway's failure to register and declare his interests, he has recognised his shortcomings. As to his use of parliamentary resources to support his work for the Mariam Appeal, he maintains that this was relatively modest in scale. We disagree and find that it went beyond what was reasonable.

76. Had these been the only matters before us, we would have confined ourselves to seeking an apology to the House. However, Mr Galloway's conduct aimed at concealing the true source of Iraqi funding of the Mariam Appeal, his conduct towards Mr David Blair and others involved in this inquiry, his unwillingness to cooperate fully with the Commissioner, and his calling into question of the Commissioner's and our own integrity have in our view damaged the reputation of the House. In accordance with precedent, we recommend that he apologise to the House, and be suspended from its service for a period of eighteen actual sitting days.[129] As the House is shortly to go into its Summer Recess, we further recommend that Mr Galloway's period of suspension should begin on October 8, the day it resumes.

104   Appendix 1, paras. 340-347. Back

105   Appendix 1, para. 352. Back

106   Q25, See also Q216. Back

107   Appendix 2, p. 141. Back

108   This would have included the donation from Neste Oil (a Helsinki-quoted public company registered in Finland) see Appendix 1, para. 176. Back

109   Q21. Back

110   Q34-38. Back

111   Q29. Back

112   Q29. Back

113   Appendix 1, para. 349. Back

114   PCS Oral Evidence, Agreed Nore of Meeting with Mr Stuart Halford, page 109, para. 22. Back

115   Appendix 1, para. 287. Back

116   See Code of Conduct, 24 July 1996 (HC(1995-96)688), paras. 53 ff. Back

117   PCS Oral Evidence, Q270-4. Back

118   Appendix 6, p.177. Back

119   Appendix 1, para. 352. Back

120   See Q257-8. Back

121   WE 116, p.126. Back

122   Q259-262. See also (written evidence). Back

123   See Q144-5 and PCS Oral Evidence Q590. Back

124   Appendix 1, paras. 85-7. Back

125   See paragraphs 39 and 40 above. Back

126   See Q111-3 and para. 11 above. Back

127   PCS Oral Evidence, Q275. Back

128   See Appendix 1, para. 247. Back

129   It is our intention that, in determining the duration of Mr Galloway's suspension, no account should be taken of non-sitting Fridays which, by virtue of Standing Order No. 12(3), are treated as 'sitting days' for the purposes prescribed therein. Back

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