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MP may be suspended on Iraq funds

  • Story Highlights
  • British lawmaker could face 18-day suspension over Iraq funds allegations
  • MP George Galloway allegedly accepted money from Saddam Hussein's regime
  • He is to be suspended starting in October for breaking parliamentary rules
  • The defunct Oil for Food Program has been plagued with scandal
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- A controversial British lawmaker faces suspension from the House of Commons over allegations that he took funds from Saddam Hussein's Iraq regime.

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A parliamentary committee criticized George Galloway for concealing funding for his charity in Iraq.

A spokesman for the House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee told CNN that the committee has recommended that Respect MP George Galloway should face an 18-day suspension for breaking parliamentary rules by accepting the money.

The committee criticized Galloway for "concealing the true source of Iraqi funding" for his charity in Iraq, Mariam Appeal, as well as for failing to co-operate with the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

The committee backed a finding of "strong circumstantial evidence" that Galloway's charity received cash from the UK's Oil for Food Program in Iraq.

The committee said the MP had been "complicit in the concealment of the true source of the funds" and had "damaged the reputation of the House," adding that he was "clearly irresponsible" in refusing to look into the source of substantial donations to the fund.

The committee's recommendation will go to a House of Commons motion vote where all MPs can vote on whether Galloway will be suspended.

Galloway was one of the few Western politicians to visit Iraq during the 1990s, drawing widespread criticism at the time and there have been reports that he benefited financially from his ties to the late Iraqi dictator, allegations he has strenuously denied.

The MP defended himself in a statement to members of the press Tuesday, saying he did not hide donations made to his charity and that he would not allow people to make false allegations against him and his work for the people of Iraq.

The Mariam Appeal "was trying to save people's lives and stop the war," Galloway said in an interview on Sky News, adding that he didn't ask people where the money was from when donations were made. Galloway insisted that accepting the money was not wrong since his campaign was meant to stop an unpopular war and help the people of Iraq.

They should give me a medal, not suspend me, he said, standing outside the Houses of Parliament in London. Galloway added that he was proud of the work he had done against the war, criticizing Tony Blair's government for British involvement in the "mess" in Iraq.

"I was right, they were wrong," he said, adding that he would miss his fellow MPs during his suspension but that he would "just have to get over it."

The Oil for Food Program was set up to help soften the humanitarian impact of sanctions placed on Saddam Hussein's regime. The arrangement allowed Iraq to sell oil and buy food and medicines with some of the proceeds but was plagued with scandal in recent years. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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