Reacting to the publication of a second report by the Charity Commission into the Mariam Appeal, which was set up in 1998 to provide medical assistance to the people of Iraq, Respect MP George Galloway said:
“For the second time, and at great public expense, the Charity Commission has concluded that there was no misuse of the funds paid into the Mariam Appeal campaign. Yet another body – following the Metropolitan Police the Serious Fraud Office – has decided there are no grounds for any further investigation or action.
“Its press office has, however, issued a sexed up release on the very day that a BBC Panorama investigation reported that arms manufacturer BAe in conjunction with successive British governments and with the knowledge of the Ministry of Defence has paid $1 billion in kickbacks to a Saudi prince. The Serious Fraud Office investigation into BAe was suspended by the very same Attorney General who asked the Charity Commission to inquire into the Mariam Appeal.
“The claim that the Mariam Appeal’s humanitarian and political campaigning was funded improperly is palpably false. The man who is claimed to be the source of “improper donations” – Fawaz Zureikat – denies any wrongdoing, has never been charged with any wrongdoing, travels freely in the US and continues to do business in Iraq under the puppet government and its Anglo-US masters.
“I’ve always disputed the Commission’s retrospective view that a campaign to win a change in national and international policy – a political campaign – was, in fact, a charity.
“I am proud of that campaign, which, had it been listened to, would have prevented us from being mired in the disaster of the Iraq occupation today. And had Western governments shared in its humanitarian efforts hundreds of thousands of Iraqis would be alive today.
“The Commission’s report says the trustees of the campaign accepted funds in good faith but should have been ‘extremely vigilant’ about the donation to the campaign made by one businessman who continues to do business in the US and in Iraq to this day. Strangely, it does not call for such ‘extreme vigilance’ to have been exercised in relation to donations from Saudi Arabian and UAE royalty, nor does it suggest what ‘extreme vigilance’ would mean.
“Absurdly, the Commission carps about me not seeking to find out something which it simultaneously expresses a concern that I may have known anyway. This is a bind worthy of Franz Kafka.
“That, along with other sloppy, misleading and partial passages of the report could have been cleared up had the Commission bothered to interview me during the course of its inquiry. The fair-minded reader can draw the appropriate conclusion from the fact it did not and from the fact that the press release it issued is a further distortion of the flawed report itself.”