Galloway investigation extended

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An investigation into an appeal fund set up by George Galloway, the MP recently expelled from the Labour Party, is to be broadened in scope, the Charity Commission said yesterday.

The commission started an inquiry in June into how funds raised by the Mariam Hamza appeal were spent from when it was launched in March 1998 to April the next year. A spokesman said last night that the inquiry would cover a longer period.

The original inquiry was launched after the commission received a complaint alleging that funds from the appeal were diverted to pay for the Glasgow Kelvin MP's travel expenses.

The commission has also requested a meeting with Mr Galloway, who has denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Galloway, who was expelled from the Labour Party last month for comments he made about the invasion of Iraq, set up the charity to bring a young Iraqi girl, Mariam Hamza, to Glasgow for treatment for leukaemia.

She was treated at Glasgow's Royal Hospital for Sick Children and received further treatment in America.

A spokesman for the commission said initial investigations had established the money raised for the appeal, which was not a registered charity, were legally defined as "charitable" funds. He said it was investigating "whether the funds raised were used for charitable purposes".