New EU chief in de­fence con­tracts storm ‘ had mo­bile phone wiped’

Daily Mail - - News -

THE new pres­i­dent of the EU Com­mis­sion is em­broiled in an ev­i­denc­etam­per­ing row af­ter the con­tents of her mo­bile phone were deleted – de­spite calls for her to hand it in.

Ursula von der Leyen, who suc­ceeded Jean-Claude Juncker, is a former de­fence min­is­ter in An­gela Merkel’s gov­ern­ment. She had the data on her of­fi­cial phone deleted ‘for se­cu­rity rea­sons’, ac­cord­ing to the Ger­man de­fence min­istry.

But fu­ri­ous MPs in the Ger­man par­lia­ment hit out at the ‘scan­dalous’ move, which took place while she was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for dol­ing out mil­lions of eu­ros on con­sul­tants for de­fence con­tracts. Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans ac­cused the de­fence min­istry of sab­o­tag­ing their at­tempts to in­ves­ti­gate the deals.

They have de­cried the ‘an­noy­ing stalling tac­tics’ of the min­istry, which re­vealed on Thurs­day that the phone was wiped in Au­gust – de­spite in­ves­ti­ga­tors ask­ing to see it for months.

It was wiped weeks af­ter MPs had ap­plied to have it clas­si­fied as ev­i­dence, ac­cord­ing to Ger­man news­pa­per Die Welt. Mrs von der Leyen, 61, gave mil­lions of eu­ros of the de­fence bud­get to con­sul­tants as she sought to kit out Ger­man sol­diers with new equip­ment.

Ger­many’s Fed­eral Au­dit Of­fice said the min­istry gave huge con­tracts to con­sul­tancy firms with­out first open­ing them up to com­peti­tors – or see­ing if the deals were good value for money.

This led to an in­quiry, in which MPs gath­ered over 4,000 doc­u­ments and ques­tioned 30 peo­ple over the af­fair. Ger­man MPs be­lieve the deleted phone mes­sages and data may have re­vealed whether Mrs von der Leyen broke gov­ern­ment rules by giv­ing in­struc­tion with­out leav­ing a pa­per trail.

In a state­ment, a de­fence min­istry spokesman said the depart­ment had ‘pro­vided all the avail­able doc­u­ments that are sub­ject to in­ves­ti­ga­tion’.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.