Page last updated at 06:17 GMT, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 07:17 UK

Judge upholds Galloway Canada ban

George Galloway
Mr Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party in 2003

A judge has upheld the Canadian government's decision to ban British MP George Galloway from entering the country to conduct a speaking tour.

Mr Galloway instead addressed a Toronto audience by video message and said he will complete his tour in the same way.

Officials had barred the Respect party leader, claiming he spoke of providing financial support to Palestinian group Hamas, which is banned in Canada.

The MP said he had given aid to people in Gaza and was not a security threat.

The Canadian government ruled otherwise on the basis that he donated cash to Hamas.

Mr Galloway, the Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in London, described the ban as "idiotic" and vowed to challenge the decision.

I am not a supporter of Hamas but I am a supporter of democracy
George Galloway

But Federal Court judge Luc Martineau ruled there were insufficient grounds to overrule the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA).

"A proper factual record and the benefit of full legal argument" were lacking to warrant overturning the CBSA decision, the judge said.

Mr Galloway delivered a speech to a reported 600-strong audience in a Toronto church from a studio in New York.

In it he denied any suggestion that he supported terrorism.

"I am not a supporter of Hamas but I am a supporter of democracy," he said.

He is expected to deliver video speeches to audiences Mississauga, Ontario, Montreal and Ottawa this week.

The MP was expelled by Labour in 2003 because of his outspoken comments on the Iraq war, which party chairman Ian McCartney said "incited foreign forces to rise up against British troops".

In 2006, he was detained "on grounds of national security" at Cairo airport, Egypt, after trying to attend a "mock trial" of then PM Tony Blair and then US President George Bush.



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