Wednesday, 5 January 2011
Firm owned by Pro Hamas George Galloway faces axe over late annual returns
4 Jan 2011
The media company run by George Galloway, the veteran left-wing politician, faces being dissolved after failing to file accounting papers.
Miranda Media, set up by the former Glasgow Kelvin MP to receive earnings from his newspaper columns and television and radio work, faces being struck off the register at Companies House.
The annual return, a crucial document which lists the company’s shareholders, directors and offices, is three months overdue.
Mr Galloway’s office said the omission was an “unfortunate clerical error” and hoped Companies House would rescind its threat to close the company.
“It appears that the accountant where the registered office is didn’t put in the annual return. It will be sorted out tomorrow (Tuesday) when his office and Companies House opens,” a spokesman said. “There’s nothing significant in it.”
House of Commons records show Mr Galloway, who is to stand for the Scottish Parliament in May, received in excess of £500,000 during the last parliament for media work. He regularly hosts debates on Iranian state broadcaster Press TV as well as twice-weekly shows on TalkSport radio, for which he is paid more than £100,000 a year. He writes a column in a newspaper, for which he is paid £25,000 to £30,000 a year.
He undertakes frequent speaking engagements in North America, Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East. A fierce critic of Israel, he recently took part in a month-long convoy to Gaza to protest against sanctions.
Critics claim his travelling and TV appearances distracted from his duties in Parliament. Records show he turned up to 98 votes in Westminster in the five years he represented his East London constituency – only 7.6% of the total.
In 2006 he sparked anger for taking part in reality show Celebrity Big Brother, causing him to miss a crucial vote on a railway project affecting his constituency. He received £145,000 to £150,000 for the appearance, records show. He gave the money to a Palestinian charity.
Mr Galloway, who helped form anti-war party Respect Coalition after being expelled from the Labour Party over the invasion of Iraq, is to stand in Glasgow for the Scottish Parliament elections in May.
In an email to supporters this weekend, he promised a “momentous year”.
Last year he stepped down from the East London seat he snatched from Oona King in 2005 to unsuccessfully contest a neighbouring constituency.
Mr Galloway, 56, is understood to hope to capitalise on the collapse of Tommy Sheridan’s Scottish Socialist Party to sweep up a far-left vote. He says he needs 10,000 votes across Glasgow as a proportional list candidate to enter Holyrood.
Former allies and opponents say the city can expect a lively campaign but accuse Mr Galloway of exploiting, rather than resolving, ethnic divisions in multicultural East London.
Weiseul Islam, a former aide to Mr Galloway and a Respect councillor who defected to Labour, described Mr Galloway’s campaigning style as “divisive”.
“You never know what he is going to do to drum up support.
“On an international level he has a lot more support than we think; he does command an incredible amount of support in the United States.”
He said Mr Galloway, who has given up his trademark cigars and was hospitalised over New Year with pneumonia, rarely voted at Westminster. “He hasn’t turned up on crucial issues. You don’t want to vote for someone who doesn’t turn up at parliament.”
Ajmal Masroor, a former Liberal Democrat opponent, said Mr Galloway was dubbed George Goneaway due to his frequent overseas trips.
“He was a prolific speaker. He could gather a crowd wherever he went. He could gain the sympathy of any underdog,” he said.
“Those who were round him did use religion to gain political clout.”