The curious case of ‘Gorgeous’ George Galloway and his fit of fury over a Metropolitan Police officer allegedly being in his London home without permission (over which he tabled an Early Day Motion in the Commons earlier this week) intersects with our interest in the Met’s long-term spy-cop-turned-academic, Dr Bob Lambert.
Last Sunday, George Galloway MP claimed that “a senior Metropolitan police counter-terrorism officer has been involved in a campaign of disinformation and ‘dirty tricks’ against George Galloway, which involved an agent in the MP’s constituency office and also setting up a series of fake email addresses in an attempt to smear him.”
On his website he elaborated on this, saying:
A very senior officer in SO15 has been feeding disinformation aimed at damaging me to a national newspaper and to others, aided by a member of staff in Bradford who has now been suspended.
This involved him using the Met email as well as creating at least two false email addresses to spread the deceit. I have incontrovertible evidence. He either did this a freelance or it was sanctioned by his superiors. I will be asking the Home Secretary tomorrow (Monday) to act on this and also bringing it to the attention of the Speaker of the House of Commons.
He noted that his house in Streatham, south London, had been broken into in June whilst his “aide Ms A” was in the property, and that a parliamentary laptop was stolen. ‘Ms A’ told Galloway that she had a friend in the Met, ‘Mr K’, who could advise on security measures. Galloway met ‘Mr K’ – from SO15, the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command – for the first time that same day.
Within 48 hours it transpired that this was not the first time the SO15 man had been in the house. He had to tell the officers investigating the break-in that his fingerprints would be found in the house as he had been sleeping there with Ms A while George was away. This is surely in breach of the police behavioural code. George pointed this out informally to the investigating officers but heard no more about this or, indeed, the result of their burglary investigation.
On Monday Galloway then wrote to Home Secretary Theresa May demanding action. He also blogged his letter, though redacted the names of both the officer and his (former) aide:
Dear Home Secretary,
I am writing to you to ask you to investigate the behaviour of a senior member of the Metropolitan police’s counter-terrorism squad SO15 who, I believe, has been carrying out a campaign of vilification – a dirty tricks operation – against me in my constituency using police facilities and resources. I would also like to know whether this unwarranted intrusion was sanctioned by the Commissioner or other senior SO15 officers.
The officer’s name is xxxxx. It is my understanding that his role is to investigate and report on radical Muslim groups. But perhaps you can clarify his remit precisely?
My first contact with xxxxx came on the day of a burglary at my home in Streatham in June. He was introduced to me by my then parliamentary assistant xxxxx. It is my understanding that the two had had, and were having, a relationship. She brought him to the house as a ‘security adviser’ who could give advice on how to make the house more secure after the local officers investigating the break-in had left.
However, within hours of that I learned that he and xxxxx had been sleeping in my house, and without permission, while I was abroad. This came out because he had to tell the officers investigating the burglary that his fingerprints would be found in the house. I asked the local officers informally to report on this to his bosses. I heard no more and neither have I heard any more about the burglary. I should, of course, have dismissed xxxxx but foolishly I gave her a second chance.
I have now discovered that she has been leaking and distorting information from within my office and handing it on to xxxxx who, apart from using his Met police email address, has set up at least two others to pump out false information to national newspapers.
For instance, on October 1 from his address (email@example.com) he sent an email to her (firstname.lastname@example.org) which included this: ‘I think there was an election fraud. I found out the printer of the election voting cards is a member of respect. the postman for the postal votes was also a member of respect party. And finally there was a rush of new voters with the name of Ali. There were 450 voters apparently all staying at the midland. And finally the gypsies came in to support GG via the Westfield site.’
Now apart from this being utter tosh – you will recall my majority was more than 10,000 and there has, to my knowledge, been no enquiry into voting irregularities in the by-election – it is a blatant attempt to set a pernicious lie running in an attempt to blacken me in my constituency and in parliament.
Again, on October 3, he emailed her from his Met address with an extensive email on tactics she should employ and which defamed several members of staff and volunteers. I can supply a copy of both of these emails.
Going on from that he, with the encouragement of his accomplice, my employee, set up at least two false email accounts so that they could pass on rumour, disinformation and downright lies to the Guardian reporter Helen Pidd. I presume she was unaware that ‘Nabeel Raja’ was xxxxx and that he was in a conspiracy with xxxxx.
I have now suspended xxxxx pending dismissal.
I think you will agree that the behaviour of this senior officer in carrying out this dirty tricks campaign goes well beyond his role in counter-terrorism and is a direct attack on not just me but on democracy. I will be writing separately to the Metropolitan police commissioner and to the Speaker but as xxxxx is ultimately responsible to you (and parliament) I would ask you to look into this and let me know the result of your investigation.
George Galloway MP
That same day, Galloway tabled his EDM, which named the officer as Afiz Khan (presumably making use of his parliamentary privilege):
That this House expresses its concern at the involvement of a very senior officer in the Metropolitan Police Counter-Terrorism branch SO15 in an apparent dirty tricks operation against the hon. Member for Bradford West; notes that the officer, Afiz Khan, entered the hon. Member’s London home without his knowledge or consent, the hon. Member never having met or heard of him, and he slept in the hon. Member’s home; further notes that Afiz Khan sent emails to an individual in the hon. Member’s officewho [sic] acted as his agent; further notes he co-ordinated this operation from his police email account and from at least two other fake email accounts, duping, amongst others, the Guardian newspaper as to his true identity; further notes that he operated under an alias against the hon. Member on Facebook and elsewhere, all the while concealing that he was a senior serving police officer at Scotland Yard; and asks the Home Secretary to make an urgent statement to Parliament on these matters.
To date Galloway’s is the only signature supporting the motion.
On Tuesday he briefly blogged about his EDM, this time referring to the officer as Afiz Khan.
By Thursday, things were hotting up. The Guardian had picked up the story, with Helen Pidd interviewing Galloway’s now-suspended secretary, Aisha Ali-Khan, for her side of the story.
In the article Ali-Khan says “that she is married to Afiz Khan, whom Galloway correctly identified as a detective inspector in the Met’s counter-terrorism unit, SO15.” The story says that she wed Khan in 2009, “and have had an on-off, hush-hush relationship ever since”.
She claims that “she has been “thrown to the wolves” because she was disliked by certain male figures in Bradford’s Respect party who wanted her out, and because Galloway wanted to deflect attention from a story about his personal life which he believed was about to hit the papers.” In addition, Ali-Khan says Galloway must have known about her marriage, because he counter-signed security clearance documents she filled in for her parliamentary pass to Westminster when she began work for him in April, which included details on her spouse. Yet Galloway affirms that Ali-Khan had introduced a different man to him in Bradford as her “estranged husband”.
The Mail also ran an article on the story earlier that day, which was subsequently amended after the Guardian‘s was published. The Mail story includes the names of both Ali-Khan and Khan, and a photograph of them together (sourced from Galloway’s office, and used above). Curiously, there is also a comment from “Mr Galloway’s spokesman and associate for the last 36 years, Ron McKay” which both adds to and then possibly contradicts the Bradford MP’s own earlier account.
First let’s look at the possible contradiction:
A short while after George came back there was a break-in at his house when he, his wife and Aisha were in, and the burglars made off with a parliamentary computer.’
Odd. Recall that Galloway’s original press release mentioned that Ali-Khan had been present in the house during the break-in, but made no mention of his or his wife’s presence.
Now let’s look at what McKay told the Mail in toto:
Aisha Ali Khan had become George’s aide after turning up at the Respect headquarters in Bradford before his election campaign. I think she used to be a teacher.
There was some concern that she had been involved with the Labour Party. She worked for George in Bradford and in London – and while he was away in Indonesia in June he gave her the keys to his house in Streatham.
A short while after George came back there was a break-in at his house when he, his wife and Aisha were in, and the burglars made off with a parliamentary computer.
Local police were investigating – but it was then that Aisha introduced Afiz Khan to George as a police officer and security expert who could help him beef up his home security.
It transpired a few hours later that Insp Khan had declared to the cops investigating the burglary that they would find his fingerprints in the house because he had been sleeping in the house with Aisha while George was away.
That was George’s rude introduction to what had been going on.
Since then George has been given incontrovertible evidence from emails that Insp Khan had been using his Met police email account and two fictitious accounts to communicate with her and use her as his agent to indulge in a dirty tricks campaign.
We also found Aisha was the instigator of a Guardian story criticising Respect. We’ve got the emails between her and the Guardian and between her and Afiz. One email from his police account claims there was electoral fraud in George’s by-election.
It’s clear he was keeping a close eye on George in his constituency.
The bit about Ali-Khan being “the instigator of a Guardian story criticising Respect” would seem to refer to Helen Pidd’s article from the previous Sunday (14 October) entitled ‘George Galloway: is Bradford losing respect for its maverick MP?‘
It covers a fair amount of ground, and a number of people are quoted in the piece – Galloway himself, Bradford West constituent ‘Jill Smith’, Respect party secretary Chris Chilvers, Respect council candidate Sarah Cartin, Galloway voter Sabbiyah Purvez, Ratna Lachman, director of Just West Yorkshire, a civil liberties, human rights and social justice organisation, and Respect councillors Ruqayyah Collector and Alyas Karmani.
Ah yes – Alyas Karmani. Helen Pidd interviewed him for a couple of articles on the local elections back in May – two of four she did on Respect and Galloway around that time. He was also featured in a piece by Anne Czernik, which was mentioned on this blog a while back.
Alyas Karmani, you may remember, as well as being the Respect election candidate who beat the leader of the local Labour Party to win a seat on Bradford City Council, is also a director of south London youth outreach programme STREET. STREET, or ‘Strategy To Reach Empower and Educate Teenagers’, was set up by one Dr Abdul Haqq Baker, with our old friend Dr Bob Lambert as a consultant. Baker and Lambert also worked together on the Centre for Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV). Baker and Lambert also shared at least one business address.
Let’s go back to Thursday’s Guardian article:
Ali-Khan, a trained teacher who gave up her job mentoring young Muslims in order to work for Galloway, says she was upfront about her spouse’s sensitive day job in the Muslim contact unit. “It was never an issue,” she insisted.
At first you might miss it, thanks to the irritating house style of The Guardian, which defers to lower case to the detriment of clarity on organisational nomenclature. It is saying that not only was Detective Inspector Afiz Khan working in SO15, but that he was in the Met’s Muslim Contact Unit (MCU).
That’s the same MCU which experienced undercover police officer Detective Inspector Bob Lambert (AKA militant animal activist Bob Robinson, AKA academic Dr Robert Lambert MBE) was not only a member of, but which he personally founded in 2002 (“to avoid the mistakes made during the IRA campaign of alienating the Irish community, and to work with credible Muslim figures to isolate and counter those prepared to support terror attacks”).
So just what is going on up in Yorkshire?
 More posts on Bob Lambert from Bristle’s Blog From The BunKRS: Doctor Bob Lambert & bloody McLibel; Lambert’s a bottler – sex-pest cop-spook “startled” by hecklers; Doctor Bob Lambert, his academic friends and the tightening purse-strings; Lambert of the Yard and the mystery of his ‘suburban terror bunker’ trading address.
See also Yet another one bad apple; Covering up the cover-up; One bad apple gets worse; Who defends the indefensible?; Two cover ups for the price of one; Mark Kennedy’s Thatcher tears; Don’t bite the hand that beats you; Bob Lambert: Still spying?; and Bob Lambert MBE vs Sir Fred Goodwin (all on Bristling Badger).
Edited: 20 October 2012, 9:15pm to clarify the McKay/Galloway discrepancy issue.
Edited: 20 October 2012, 9:45pm to tidy up hyperlinks.