Respect leader attacks Galloway for rape comments

George Galloway fell out of favour with the leadership of the party he helped create today, after Salma Yaqoob attacked him for his comments on rape.

The Bradford  MP yesterday suggested the allegations against Assange "don't constitute rape" and were a Pentagon conspiracy to arrest the Wikileaks founder.

On a blog this afternoon, Respect leader Yaqoob, who was helping her sister give birth when the row exploded yesterday, disassociated herself from the most famous figure in her party.

"Let me be clear, as a politician and as a woman. Rape occurs when a woman has not consented to sex," she wrote.

"George Galloway’s comments on what constitutes rape are deeply disappointing and wrong.

"There are many political issues entwined in the case of Julian Assange. These issues cannot be used to diminish in any way the seriousness of any allegations against him.

"This turn of events may well act to undermine Assange's defence against those powerful forces keen to make an example of him for exposing the crimes of empire. It has certainly taken the debate around violence against women a step backwards."

Speaking today, Galloway refused to retract his previous statement and again insisted the allegations would not constitute rape in the UK.

"No never means yes and non-consensual sex is rape. There's no doubt about it and that has always been my position. But if my remarks on the podcast need clarification I am happy to do that," he said.

"Julian Assange, let's be clear, has always denied the allegations. And this has all the hallmarks of a set-up.

"I don't believe, from what we know, that the director of public prosecutions would sanction a prosecution in Britain. What occurred is not rape as most people understand it. And it's important to note that the two women involved did not initially claim it."

English courts have twice ruled that the allegations faced by Assange would constitute rape under domestic law.