Profile: "Gorgeous" George

George Galloway Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

"Gorgeous" George Galloway's victory in Bradford West is the latest chapter in the career of one of the country's most controversial politicians.

He was a thorn in the side of all the Labour leaders he served under at Westminster until he was booted out of the party in 2003.

But he quickly bounced back, founding Respect and retaining his place in Parliament with the new party after winning the former Labour stronghold of Bethnal Green and Bow in London's East End, another constituency with a high Muslim population, in 2005.

His contacts with Saddam Hussein which earned him the nickname "the honourable member for Baghdad Central" and his bull-in-a-china-shop approach to every issue he pursued were a constant source of embarrassment for Labour.

After publicly accusing Tony Blair and President George W Bush of acting "like wolves" in invading Iraq, Mr Galloway was expelled from the party in 2003.

Typically, he responded robustly to his expulsion by saying it was done "by a kangaroo court whose verdict had been written in advance in the best tradition of political show trials".

Mr Galloway wasted no time after his expulsion in announcing that he would be working with the Socialist Alliance and others under the name RESPECT Unity Coalition.

George Galloway sits with his supporter Mohammed Iqbal as he arrives to hear the results in the Bradford West By-election Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Mr Galloway was born on August 16 1954 in, to use his own words, "an attic in a slum tenement in the Irish quarter of Dundee which is known as Tipperary".

After leaving Harris Academy, Dundee, he worked for a garden centre and then for Michelin tyres. In 1977 he was appointed a Labour Party organiser and soon became known for his firebrand speeches. At the age of 26 he became chairman of the Scottish Labour Party, one of the youngest in history.

Mr Galloway won Glasgow Hillhead - ousting the hated Roy Jenkins, one of the new Social Democrat Party's Gang of Four - in 1987 but faced an almost immediate scandal. He was asked about a conference in Mykonos in Greece and replied: "I travelled and spent lots of time with people in Greece, many of whom were women, some of whom were known carnally to me. I actually had sexual intercourse with some of the people in Greece."

That earned him the sobriquet "Gorgeous George" and put him on all the front pages. The executive committee of his local party passed a vote of no confidence in him in February 1988. He only narrowly survived to win reselection the following year.

Overseas, he had taken a special interest in Libya, Pakistan, Iraq and Palestine. And he once said "the disappearance of the Soviet Union is the biggest catastrophe of my life - if there was a Soviet Union today, we would not be having this conversation about plunging into a new war in the Middle East, and the US would not be rampaging around the globe".

In 1998 he founded the Mariam Appeal to campaign against sanctions on Iraq. It was named after a child, Mariam Hamza, flown to Britain to be treated for leukaemia. The fund was subject to scrutiny in 2003, but the Charities Commission rejected allegations that funds had been misused.

Earlier, in 1994, Mr Galloway caused outrage when he was filmed telling Saddam Hussein: "Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability." He claimed that the praise was intended for the Iraqi people collectively.

Mr Galloway remained typically fiery after his expulsion from the Labour Party, amid fears that he would resign and create a by-election in his Glasgow Kelvin seat, which Labour privately admitted they probably would have lost.

What he said sent a shiver down the spine of Labour: "If I were to resign the constituency and there was a by-election, I can't guarantee that I would win, but I would guarantee that Tony Blair's candidate would surely lose."

To the party's intense relief, he did not carry out this threat. But he served notice that at the next election he would fight Bethnal Green and Bow, where Labour's sitting MP, Oona King, had supported the Iraq war.

He achieved notoriety for his conduct in the the Celebrity Big Brother house in 2006. There he demonstrated his ability to change from roaring political tiger to timid domestic cat by pretending to purr and lick cream from actress Rula Lenska's hands on the show.

In 2011 he said he might end his political career in Scotland if he secured a seat in that year's Scottish Parliament election. But his bid failed, leading him to Bradford.

His notoriety brought him to the attention of the tabloids and earlier this year he accepted £25,000 in damages from News Group Newspapers after it admitted that private investigator Glenn Mulcaire intercepted messages left on his mobile phone.