Galloway seeks truth in Saudi

Click to follow
The Independent Online
GEORGE GALLOWAY, the left-wing Labour MP, has been flown to Saudi Arabia to interview the police who allegedly beat and threatened two British nurses into confessing to killing a colleague.

While all attempts to visit the country by the British media failed during Lucille McLauchlan and Deborah Parry's incarceration, Mr Galloway has been given a visa to work for the Mail on Sunday.

The maverick MP earned the approval of the Saudis on the women's release when he criticised newspapers who bought their stories and demanded that the nurses be struck off their professional register, the UK Central Council for Nurses.

"They have not been pardoned - they have been convicted of murder," he said. "The same newspapers who hounded Mary Bell and criticised the payment to her are paying out money to two convicted murderers."

In turn, the Daily Mail, which made a failed pounds 175,000 bid for McLauchlan's story, followed up with an article headlined: "Two British Nurses, Lesbianism and Murder in the Desert - and the Truth".

A parliamentary source told The Independent yesterday: "George has been very interested in the case and has been given a visa to go in and write a piece for the Mail on Sunday. The idea is that he will examine the evidence and interview the police who are supposed to have forced confessions out of the nurses."

Peter Watson, McLauchlan's lawyer, and Rodger Pannone, Parry's reprentative, were amazed when told of the visit. "They are affording George Galloway a privilege that neither the accused nor the defence team were afforded," said Mr Watson.

Mr Pannone said: "It seems amazing that a system of law cannot produce the evidence for us which we asked for repeatedly over 18 months, cannot produce it at the women's trial, and yet can produce it 18 months later for an MP known to have sympathies to the Arab cause. I am not impressed by that whatsoever."

Mr Galloway is understood to have flown to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday aboard a flight paid for by the newspaper. He was travelling to Jeddah yesterday. He has expressed concern over the xenophobia demonstrated in certain parts of the media over the automatic assumption that Saudi justice is inferior to its British counterpart.

In April, while opposing sanctions against Iraq, the MP for Glasgow Kelvin was accused by some MPs of staging a stunt when he flew into Britain from Iraq with a four-year-old Iraqi girl leukaemia victim.