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Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Sunday, 7 March 2010

Bob Geldof denies that any Band Aid money funded arms

On Sunday 7 March Andrew Marr interviewed anti-poverty campaigner Bob Geldof.

Please note 'The Andrew Marr Show' must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Bob Geldof on The Andrew Marr Show

ANDREW MARR:

In the 1980s, moved by the shocking images of famine victims in Ethiopia, Bob Geldof mobilised one of the most successful fundraising efforts ever through his Band Aid organisation. It raised millions of pounds. But now he is incensed by the claim in a BBC report that some of that money may have been siphoned off to buy arms by rebels fighting Ethiopian government. Well Sir Bob Geldof is currently in Africa, and a little earlier I spoke to him from Nairobi. I asked him if it was not at least possible that some of the money had been diverted to pay for weapons and not for food?

BOB GELDOF:

No is the answer; it did not go to weapons. That's … Let me be explicit. Let me be equally explicit about Band Aid for whom I will speak. Absolutely not. Not a single penny went on armaments. Not one. Not a pound; not a penny. Let me be clear on that. And I've also spoken to some of the others, including the Red Cross, who say it is absolute rubbish that any of their money could have possibly gone on arms.

ANDREW MARR:

How do we know from the outside what happened, Sir Bob, given that this was a rebel-held area, difficult to get aid into in the first place, and the witnesses used by a respected BBC journalist were part of the Tigrayan People's Revolutionary Army at the time?

BOB GELDOF:

They weren't. There's a high level official in the White House, who was an independent monitor at the time, who said the guy wasn't even in the region. The Ethiopians say that he wasn't even in the country at the time. This is a dissident political exile whose specific enemy, of which he has a track record of spinning against, is Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, who has a General Election coming up. He is not a credible voice whatsoever. We monitored our own stuff. We had independent monitors coming in. We shared all our information with all the other NGOs who were doing precisely the same thing. Oxfam have called it "palpable nonsense."

ANDREW MARR:

You're absolutely sure that nothing was wrongly used for armaments at the time?

BOB GELDOF:

In Band Aid's case, absolutely not. I can only speak for Band Aid. Not at all! Produce, produce one shred of evidence, one iota of evidence - not some dissident exile malcontent in Holland. Produce me one shred of evidence and I promise you I will professionally investigate it, I will professionally report it; and if there is any money missing I will sue the Ethiopian government who are the rebels who were fighting the war in Tigray for that money back now and I will spend it again on aid. There is not, Andy, let me be specifically clear, not a single shred of evidence that Band Aid or Live Aid money was diverted in any sense. It could not have been.

ANDREW MARR:

It's presumably very important …

BOB GELDOF:

(over) This is just something …

ANDREW MARR:

… from your point of view …

BOB GELDOF:

Andy …

ANDREW MARR:

… because of the effect on people who would otherwise be giving aid now?

BOB GELDOF:

But … Yes, but Britain at that moment did something genuinely magnificent, which is why it resonates to today, and it did influence the entire debate about Africa and development and poverty. It really did have a huge political impact that resonates to today. And that's the reason this story runs - because it's about rock and roll. It's the journalism of celebrity, so it carries. That's another disgrace for the World Service - the journalism of celebrity.

ANDREW MARR:

Well let me finish …

BOB GELDOF:

But I'm telling you, why can't … Andy, just once something worked. Just once it worked. I know I'm an unforgiving character, I know I'm uncomfortable for a lot of people - if not fragra… flagrantly unlikeable - but the truth is sometimes pop singers actually can organise a proverbial P-up in the brewery. Why not look at what's happening here today? Twenty-five … I was in Tigray just before Christmas and I saw what we began twenty-five years ago. Valleys, which were moonscapes, now verdant and lush and giving life and jobs and eighteen thousand Birr a year to the farmers of that neighbourhood. That's what we started. We built dams. There's our names on them. Not in armaments. We started that. Today, according to the Economist, Ethiopia is the fifth fastest growing economy in the planet in the year of the African World Cup. Isn't that the story, or part of the story?

ANDREW MARR:

It's certainly...

BOB GELDOF:

Not some nonsense that never happened.

ANDREW MARR:

It's certainly a very good story. Sir Bob, thank you very much indeed for joining us.

BOB GELDOF:

Thanks, Andy.

INTERVIEW ENDS




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