On the heels of appearing alongside swim instructor Michael Barrymore and rebounding reprobate Dennis Rodman on Ch.4′s “Celebrity Big Brother”, Iraq war opponent and MP George Galloway found himself the focus of unwanted media attention. From the Guardian’s Duncan Campbell.
Galloway (above) had been invited out to a late night meal by two men apparently keen to help his party, Respect. The pair, introduced as Pervaiz Khan and Sam Fernando, described themselves as “Islamists” which, given that neither had a beard, also seemed peculiar.
Soon the conversation turned, according to Mr Galloway, to the issue of just how they could help – along the lines of “can we sponsor members of parliament? … fund political parties?” What could they mean? “I told them absolutely not, it’s completely illegal,” said Mr Galloway yesterday.
Then the men starting making remarks about Jewish people, said the MP, “and invited me to agree with them. For example, when I said the Daily Express was the worst pro-war, anti-Muslim paper in the land, they asked ‘because it’s owned by a Jew?’. ‘No,’ I said, ‘because it’s owned by a pro-war pornographer’.”
Then came talk about the Holocaust, with Mr Fernando saying, according to Mr Galloway,”you’re not allowed even to quibble about the numbers, not even to say it might have been five million”.
At midnight Mr Galloway made to leave but, before he departed, Mr Khan said that his driver wanted a picture taken with him as he had seen him on TV. “His driver was built like a bodyguard, had a mouthful of gold teeth and, when I asked where he was from he answered, enigmatically: ‘Up north’.”
At which stage, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Princess Michael of Kent, the Countess of Wessex and countless others might ruefully have been able to warn Mr Galloway that he was in the crosshairs of “the fake sheikh”, aka News of the World reporter, Mazher Mahmood, who frequently pretends to be a wealthy Arab and who keeps his identity hidden behind a silhouette picture byline when his scoops appear.