George Galloway has attracted criticism after suggesting that the sex assault allegations levelled against Julian Assange by two women in Sweden "don't constitute rape."
The Respect MP for Bradford West made the comments in a video podcast he hosts called 'Good night with George Galloway'. The comments occur around 22 minutes into the video.
In it, he contends that because both of the women who made the allegations agreed to have sex with Julian Assange, they effectively entered into a "sex game" and could not withdraw their consent at a later point.
Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, was granted refuge by the government of Ecuador last week after losing his case against a UK extradition warrant that would force him to face the allegations in Sweden.
Mr Assange, who is living in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, says the allegations are politically motivated and that the Swedish government intends to extradite him to the US.
In his video, Mr Galloway admits that he finds Julian Assange's sexual behaviour "sordid" and "disgusting" but says that the allegations against him amount to "bad sexual etiquette" and not rape.
I think that Julian Assange's personal sexual behaviour is something sordid, disgusting, and I condemn it. But even taken at its worst, the allegations made against him by the two women – and I'm not even going into their political connections, I'm going to leave that for others and for another day. Even taken at its worst, if the allegations made by these two women were true, 100 per cent true, and even if a camera in the room captured them, they don't constitute rape. At least not rape as anyone with any sense can possibly recognise it. And somebody has to say this."
Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, Katie Russell form Rape Crisis England and Wales said: "It is staggering just how ignorant, factually and morally incorrect George Galloway can be. It is very concerning that an elected MP should display such ignorance of the law for all the women and men he represents. It sends a negative message to all the women and girls who have experienced sexual violence and a disturbing message to perpetrators. He says he doesn't believe these women or these allegations and that is a very powerful statement because every woman or girl who has made an allegation of sexual violence deserves to have that treated fairly."