Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Galloway and Perjury

Galloway says he's innocent of giving false evidence to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs permanent subcommittee, and that he's ready to face trial in the US. It's likely he'll face trial in the UK as well.

The full Senate report is available here (halfway down page). It presents bank records showing that a close colleague of Galloway received commissions from the sales of oil under the Iraqi oil-for-food program, and that on receiving each of these he transferred money to Galloway's wife (they've since split) and Galloway's political vehicle.

The proofs given for linkage between the oil-for-food payments and the payments to Galloway's wife and vehicle are multiple Iraqi documents, and witness statements including one by Tariq Aziz, Saddam's foreign minister. The documents seem proven valid, but the statements need to be tested by cross examination.

If they stand up, then Galloway could claim that he was unaware of his wife's transactions, and that payments to his political vehicle did not constitute payments to him. To clear that fence, he'd have to discredit the people who say that he solicited the oil-for-food money.

So he has a difficult task, but not altogether impossible.

The UK dimension concerns the libel action Galloway won last year against the London Daily Telegraph.

Maverick MP George Galloway, who accused by a newspaper of being in the pay of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, was awarded substantial libel damages by a judge.

George Galloway, expelled from Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party last year for his vehement opposition to the Iraq war, will receive 150,000 pounds, the judge ruled Thursday.

Galloway, 50, who had denied what he called the "outrageous and incredibly damaging" claims by the Daily Telegraph in April 2003, described the verdict gleefully afterwords as a "judicial caning" for the paper.

Last time a Brit politician perjured himself in a libel suit, he ended up in jail for 18 months, bankrupt, his marriage and family broken and generally destroyed:

June 8, 1999

Ex-Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken is behind bars in a south London prison after he was jailed for perjury and perverting the course of justice.

The former Conservative MP admitted both charges earlier in the year, following the collapse of his libel case against The Guardian and World in Action.

His crime was to bring a libel action against the Guardian newspaper, making just one statement that the Guardian was able (by skulduggery) to prove was false. There was a fuss about the skulduggery but Aitken went down.

With this precedent, things look bad for Galloway if the Daily Telegraph chooses to claim perjury. It now has a heap more evidence than it had in the original trial.

So Galloway could get to sample jails on two continents.