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George Galloway Has Accused One Of His Opponents Of Lying About Being Forced Into Marriage

The controversial Respect party candidate made the accusation against Labour's Naz Shah at a hustings event on Wednesday evening. Shah accused him of hiring someone to impersonate her father in Pakistan.

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Bradford West Respect candidate George Galloway has accused his Labour opponent, Naz Shah, of lying about being forced into marriage at 15 years old.

Gareth Fuller / PA

The controversial politician, who last week got into a high-profile spat with a local brewery, accused Shah of making up her backstory in order to help her electoral chances.

Following her formal selection last month, Shah made headlines after writing an article describing her challenging childhood and recalling sexual abuse and violence that came from a forced marriage in Pakistan.

Galloway, who has been the constituency's MP since 2012, made the claim at a hustings event held in the business district of Manningham.

View this video on YouTube

In a video uploaded on to YouTube by the user "Amar Rafiq", Galloway accuses Shah of having a "passing acquaintance with the truth."

"You claimed, and gullible journalists believed you, that you were subject to a forced marriage at 15," he says. "But you were not 15, you were 16 and a half. I have your nikah [Islamic marriage contract]."

The statement is met with both shock and applauding jeers, the latter suspected to be from supporters of Galloway.

In the video, Galloway also accuses the debate's chair of allowing Shah to "slander" him without a right to reply.

He says: "She lied about me, she lied about her age, she lied about this community for her own selfish end. She played into every stereotype – I have set politics alight in Bradford, that's why the media are here."

View this video on YouTube

Shah refutes Galloway's claims, and accuses him of hiring someone to impersonate her father in Pakistan in order to obtain the marriage certificate.

"Could Mr Galloway confirm, did somebody pose as my father, who died over 12 years ago, to get my nikah from the office?" she says.

"Could he also confirm if he has sight of the original one which I have left in my office which is dated the 25th December 1988? Of course not. Because it was my marriage, not his."

When Galloway challenges her to present the marriage certificate, she responds by saying, "What has my nikah got to do with Bradford West?"

"What have your four marriages got to do with Bradford West?" she adds.

Galloway won the Bradford West seat in a by-election in 2012 with a majority of over 10,000.

Last month, BuzzFeed News found that despite many former supporters being disappointed with his leadership, he was still likely to be re-elected this year, mainly as a result of the fragmentation in Bradford's local Labour party.

Hussein Kesvani is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

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