Telegraph loses Galloway libel appeal

By Hamish Mackay

The
Daily Telegraph has lost its appeal against a 2004 libel award to
Respect MP George Galloway.

The
Court of Appeal upheld a 2004 High Court judgement under which the
Telegraph had been ordered to pay Galloway £150,000 in damages and
around
£1.1m in costs after the MP sued the broadsheet for its claims that he
received payment from the regime of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Galloway
was not available for comment because he is currently cut off from
contact with the public as a contestant on the Channel 4 reality TV programme
Celebrity Big Brother. The MP might first hear of the ruling if he
is evicted from the Big Brother house this evening.

The Daily
Telegraph had said documents found in Iraq by its correspondent David
Blair proved the existence of a financial arrangement between Galloway
and the Ba’athist regime – charges which the then-MP for Glasgow Kelvin
denied.

Had he lost the appeal, the Galloway would have faced legal bills that might have jeopardised his seat in Parliament.

Parliamentary
rules state that bankruptcy disqualifies people from being MP.

On Sunday, Galloway’s spokesman – journalist Ron McKay
– told Paul Hutcheon of the Sunday Herald, that Galloway would have had
to declare bankruptcy had he lost the appeal. This
wouldhave meant Galloway being ejected from his Bethnal Green and Bow seat
in London.

Galloway won the
seat last year under the banner of the Respect Party which he launched
after being expelled from the Labour Party for his comments opposing
the Iraq war.

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