Actually the Telegraph didn't say that. They said that about George Galloway, with far less evidence than there appears to be about Rifkind and it cost them dear. Now it turns out that Malcolm Rifkind's name has turned up on an authenticated document at Iraq's foreign ministry building. The document shows that the company that employed Rifkind in 1999 was seeking a meeting with Saddam Hussein's representatives in New York and that the meeting was bound up with the oil business during the sanctions regime. The document actually says that the meeting was to be attended by Rifkind himself but Rifkind puts this down to secretarial negligence at the company, the Australian multi-national BHP, and he denies that he was involved in any meeting, prospective or actual, with Saddam Hussein's representatives. So there we have Rifkind's name on a document showing that he (or at least his company) were interested in a deal with Saddam Hussein.
Now I'm interested in two questions here. Why has this document emerged now? And why hasn't the Telegraph denounced Rifkind as a traitor or indeed denounced him at all? Well, it might surprise people to know that Rifkind voted against the war on Iraq. That could explain why the document has surfaced so close to a leadership battle in the Tory party. But what about the Telegraph? Assuming the document has only just come to light then it could be that the Telegraph has been chastened by its defeat by George Galloway. But Rifkind's former employers admit that the document is genuine in this case whereas no such admission, no credible admission anyway, was forthcoming in the Galloway case. So he's anti-war (anti-war on Iraq anyway) and the evidence against him seeking to benefit from oil deals with the former Iraqi regime is admitted to be genuine, subject to Rifkind's own disclaimer. So what's the Telegraph's problem? Could it be that it's because he's a Tory and Tories can do what they like? They can even vote with their consciences (if indeed that's what it was) on issues like war. Clearly he hasn't emerged unscathed. After all the document has been the subject of reports but he hasn't been subjected to the combination of apoplexy and glee that greeted the allegations against Galloway. There's a lesson here. If Rifkind was on the left, if he had campaigned against the war rather than just voted against it, and, of course, if he wasn't a Tory he would be in the stocks right now just as they tried to place Galloway in the stocks. So Tories cannot prosper from treason, for if they prosper, none dare call it treason. (Hat-tip, Sir John Harrington)