May 13, 2005

Galloway beyond the pale?

Curiously insightful comment by the ever repentant Roy Greenslade.
In quick succession since his election victory last week in Bethnal Green and Bow, Galloway has been subjected to a television mauling by Jeremy Paxman, a radio sandbagging by the MP he defeated and a raft of newspaper headlines about a set of reheated allegations which he has not only strenuously denied but which ended with him winning a major libel action.
What seems to have triggered Greenslade's article is the rehashing of the old allegations of "oil-for-Galloway" and the way they have been handled by the media.
In spite of Galloway's court victory and the accumulated evidence in his favour, the BBC saw fit to lead its news bulletins yesterday with the story of supposedly "new" accusations that he received money from Saddam Hussein's Iraq through its oil-for-food programme. Yet the only difference between the claims made against Galloway by the Daily Telegraph in April 2003 and a US Senate subcommittee this week was that they were based on (already published) documents allegedly retrieved from Iraq's oil ministry rather than its foreign ministry - and not, as wrongly claimed, that they covered different periods.

In all other essentials, the allegations made by the Senate committee are the same as those originally outlined in the Telegraph articles that resulted in Galloway being awarded £150,000 in libel damages and £1.2m in costs, though an appeal against the high court ruling in his favour is still outstanding.

During the case Galloway successfully rebutted every point in the Telegraph story that led its journalists to conclude that he had profited from Saddam's government. So it's hardly any wonder that Galloway has found himself repeating his former denials.
He ends with a nice swipe at Oona King
Naturally, when she did lose, King was devastated, as were many other unseated MPs. But, unlike them, she was given a lengthy slot on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this week to air her grievances in what was a strikingly tame interview - no balancing material was offered - allowing her to vent her spleen about the nature of a "dirty" campaign and insinuating that Galloway's Respect party had been responsible for her suffering anti-semitic slurs.

A Respect spokesman described the claims as ludicrous and a smear. But I saw it differently. The nature of the King interview, in which she was not challenged with anything like that programme's normal robustness, was further evidence of the way Galloway is now regarded within the media. He is simply not being given a fair crack of the whip.

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