George Galloway has finally issued libel proceedings against the Daily Telegraph, more than two months after he originally threatened to sue the newspaper over its claims that he was in the pay of Saddam Hussein.

However, the Glasgow Kelvin MP said today he did not want to discuss the matter further.

"The issuing of writs speaks for itself, I think. This is now a legal matter and I don't really want to add anything to the fact that the writs have been issued," Mr Galloway told the Press Association.

Mr Galloway is currently on a speaking tour and is appearing in Cheltenham tonight, London tomorrow and both London and Birmingham on Sunday.

Only last week Charles Moore, the editor of the Daily Telegraph, stood by the paper's story, which was based on documents unearthed in the looted Iraqi foreign ministry by Baghdad correspondent David Blair.

However, Mr Galloway has always strongly denied the claims that he accepted money from the former Iraqi regime.

Moore's defence came as US paper the Christian Science Monitor apologised to Mr Galloway after admitting that the documents which it had formed the basis of its own story, which made similar claims, were "almost certainly forgeries".

"We have complete confidence in our story, our reporter and the authenticity of our documents," Moore said in a statement on June 20.

"The Christian Science Monitor's retraction has no bearing on the Daily Telegraph's story. Our story was based on a different set of documents found in a different set of circumstances. They were not supplied or given to us but unearthed by our reporter, David Blair, in the foreign ministry in Baghdad," he added.

"The CSM's documents were produced in the wake of our story by a mysterious figure using a pseudonym. They purported to be torn from official files but there was no evidence to support their authenticity. We were offered them but declined to publish them.

"We note that the experts employed by the CSM pronounced that the documents on which our story was based appeared to be genuine."

Mr Galloway, who refused to accept the Monitor's apology, said last week that he was the victim of a conspiracy and demanded that Tony Blair launch an investigation into who forged the documents given to the American paper.

Labour suspended Mr Galloway last month, pending an investigation into whether he brought the party into disrepute by urging British troops not to fight in an "illegal" war against Iraq.

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