Wednesday, October 04, 2006

EU Fraud - EU Court Sides With EU Shock!

[Updated - spellcheck on Daniel Hannan (not Hannon) - hat tip Rexie in the comments]

Daniel Hannan in The Spectator, May 2004 (via Samizdata):
Contemplate, then, the case of Hans-Martin Tillack. Mr Tillack is a respected German reporter who has written extensively about the Eurostat scandal. This convoluted affair really deserves a column to itself but, briefly, it involves allegations that millions of euros have been diverted from the budget by Commission officials. More recently, Mr Tillack had started to investigate the broader failure of EU authorities to act on tip-offs. It was this that triggered the reaction. Last month police swooped on his flat. He was questioned for ten hours without a lawyer, while his laptop, files and address book were confiscated. Even his private bank statements were ransacked.

The raid was ordered by Olaf, the EU's anti-corruption unit. Needless to say, no such treatment has been meted out to the alleged fraudsters. In the looking-glass world of Brussels, it is those exposing sleaze, rather than those engaging in it, who find themselves in police custody. Mr Tillack was implausibly accused of having procured some of his papers by bribery. No formal charges have been brought, and he is now planning to sue. In the meantime, though, the notes he had built up over five years of meticulous work have been seized and his sources put at risk.
The EU courts have just dismissed Tillack's claims. From the EUObserver:
German reporter Hans-Martin Tillack's claim that the European Commission punished him for exposing EU fraud by using the Belgian police to snatch his files has not been proved, EU courts in Luxembourg ruled on Wednesday morning (4 October).

"The court considers that there is not a sufficiently direct causal link between the forwarding of the information [that Mr Tillack bribed EU officials] by OLAF to the Belgian judicial authorities and the damage claimed in order for liability to be established on that basis," the Court of First Instance judgement stated.

The decision clears the way for the EU-anti fraud office, OLAF, to examine the reporter's contact books - currently in Belgian police hands - in its hunt for an internal leak that helped Mr Tillack break major stories about EU corruption back in 2002.

It is also set to discourage other people from bringing similar accusations against non-transparent forms of cooperation between the EU anti-fraud authorities and national police.

And it further clears OLAF of smearing the journalist's name with public bribery allegations between 2002 and 2004, in a judgment that Mr Tillack and the International Federation of Journalists see as a blow against press freedom and democracy in the heart of the European Union.

"It's a licence for OLAF to lie," Mr Tillack told EUobserver. "It's astonishing that the court allows an EU institution to present rumours as facts. This is damaging to journalists' rights and to the rights of European citizens as well."
Here's Daniel Hannan's conclusion from 2004. Nothing has changed:
The lack of interest in this incident is bewildering. Journalists, after all, are usually exercised by the mistreatment of other journalists. When similar things happen in Zimbabwe, they are the subject of stern editorials. Yet here is the EU intimidating its critics with all the crudeness of a tinpot dictatorship. A message is being semaphored to the Brussels press corps: stick to copying out the Commission's press releases and you'll be looked after; make a nuisance of yourself and you'll regret it. As the EU correspondent of a British newspaper told me mopily last week, 'If they can do this to a German Europhile and get away with it, people like me might as well pack up and go home.'
Tillack is taking his case to the European Court of Human Rights, and he still has the option of the EU's High Court in Luxembourg. Make some noise in his support by contacting your MEP.


Blogger rexie said...

The author was Daniel Hannan (not Hannon), and for those of us in the South East he IS our MEP -

He's also a writer for the Brussels Journal -

8:47 am  
Blogger AntiCitizenOne said...

You must realise that as a socialist entity the meanings of names are reversed (e.g. Orwells Ministry of Truth).

OLAF is there to ensure that fraud can continue.

EU delenda est.

3:14 pm  

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