Diary: Is George really preaching as one of Islam's converted?


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The Independent Online

George Galloway, the newly elected MP for West Bradford, has denied that he took part in a ceremony years ago to convert to Islam. Mr Galloway, whose family background is Roman Catholic, is undeniably popular with British Muslims, particularly the young, but whether he is a Muslim is something he does not consider to be anyone else's business.

The topic was aired in the current issue of New Statesman magazine by the journalist Jemima Khan, who interviewed Galloway in Bradford.

She wrote: "He converted more than 10 years ago in a ceremony at a hotel in Kilburn, north-west London, attended by members of the Muslim Association of Great Britain. Those close to him know this. The rest of the world, including his Muslim constituents, does not."

The piece evoked a furious denial from Galloway. "I told her it was fallacious when she put it to me. I have never attended any such ceremony in Kilburn, Karachi or Kathmandu. It is simply and categorically untrue," he said.

But the Staggers retaliated with a statement saying: "It is notable that Galloway does not deny being a Muslim convert, and he did not deny it when it was put to him at the time of the interview, which is on tape. Nor did he deny that the ceremony took place when it was put to him."

Is he or isn't he? Last night, his people were not saying.

Taking the (seat next to) Micky

As Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, faced a gruelling session in the Commons he placed himself, either by accident or design, next to Michael Fabricant, a government whip. The question most often asked about Micky Fab, as Fabricant is know, is why is his hair so golden. That mop is not a wig, yet no one believes it is naturally that colour.

Micky was so pleased with the transient moment of fame that sitting next to an embattled minister conferred on him that yesterday he shared these thoughts with his Facebook friends: "Jeremy Hunt came and sat next to me during Prime Minister's Questions. Michael Gove did the same when he was in a spot of trouble a few weeks back and Andrew Lansley also did the same some months ago when there was a little controversy on his health reforms. Am I a jinx or am I a smiley face that they like sitting next to? (A Labour MP told me it was because my hair distracts everyone from whatever problem the Government might be facing. Perhaps I'm a sort of good luck gonk)."

Micky Fab, the Good Luck Gonk – he should put that on his next election leaflet.

Secret past of No 10 nanny

The Australian newspapers have unearthed a detail about the home life of David and Samantha Cameron that was not known on this side of the globe. They have hired a 24-year-old nanny named Sammi Strange, from Melbourne, Australia, after an interview conducted by Skype. "She was shaking when she found out it who it was. She was very excited and nervous," her father, David, who runs a barge business, told the Herald Sun. He added that she gets on well with the Cameron's three young children. There is a catch, however. Like so many others, Ms Strange has posted information about herself on the net, only to find that it can return to haunt her. Answering questions in an online survey, she confessed to shoplifting, smoking and drinking, but denied taking drugs "in the past month". When asked if she swears, she replied: "**** yeah."

Ken finds a friend for a rainy day

When Ken Livingstone defeated his younger rival Oona King for the Labour nomination for Mayor of London, nearly two years ago, he promised to offer her a job. He has now done it, a week before polling day. Lady King will be his adviser on youth matters, if he wins (though opinion polls are putting Boris Johnson a short distance ahead).

Yesterday, as Livingstone stood outside the Treasury to deliver a speech on youth unemployment, Lady King was to be seen holding his umbrella.