Peer backs freelance's hospital dream

Back to Iraq: Lee Gordon with 11-year-old amputee Zeynab Hamid Taresh

Freelance journalist Lee Gordon plans to fly back out to Iraq this week and says he expects to have a hospital for amputee children set up in Baghdad within the next three months.

Gordon said he has recruited Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Emma Nicholson to back his appeal and that she intends to raise up to £1 million over the next year.

After more than a year reporting from Iraq, Gordon returned from the country with 11-year-old Zeynab Hamid Taresh in July.

The girl lost her right leg in the early days of the second Iraq war when her village, just outside Basra, was bombed.

With the help of Heather Mills McCartney, Gordon arranged medical treatment for Taresh and said he intended to set up a clinic for the thousands of other amputees without medical help in Iraq.

Although Mills McCartney is no longer said to be involved, Gordon said the project has been given new impetus with the involvement of Nicholson and her long-established Iraq medical charity AMAR.

Zeynab and Gordon were due to return to Iraq in September but they have been delayed by medical complications and the worsening security situation.

Zeynab has been staying with Gordon and an Iraqi family during her time in the UK.

She is now said to be looking forward to returning to her father who lives in Basra.

Gordon, who plans to combine freelancing with his work on the hospital, said: “I think it is all systems go for the hospital now. Baroness Nicholson is really putting her back into it”

By Dominic Ponsford

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