Thursday, April 22, 2004

This is what we are voting for

From EU Observer 22 April 2004 - 09:32 CET

Cox accuses MEP of slur campaign

European Parliament President Pat Cox said claims that several MEPs are involved in expenses scams are based on "zero evidence" and accused the MEP making these allegations of conducting a campaign to discredit the
institution.

Austrian independent MEP Hans-Peter Martin claimed in German tabloid media that EU-parliamentarians were claiming daily expenses falsely, and said he had evidence of 7,200 cases.

Pat Cox, however, said that there is "zero evidence" to support the claims of wrongdoing or breaches of the rules, which are also levelled against himself.

"It would have been more helpful, and in my view more fruitful had Hans-Peter Martin associated himself with this drive for reform in Committee and plenary rather than conducting a campaign, the main purpose of which
appears to seek to discredit the institution, to call into question the honour of members of this house and to reap maximum damage on zero evidence to individuals, to their career and to their families", Mr Cox said in
Parliament yesterday.

Mr Cox also accused him of a "grotesque attempt to maximise personal publicity" and criticised the secret filming of members and the secret recording of their conversations.

"It is easy to blacken the reputation of public figures, it is extremely difficult to counteract slur and partial information once these have been launched in certain sections of the media".

Mr Cox's remarks were applauded by MEPs, who in a few weeks will face their electorate for the June European Parliament elections.

Mr Martin denied yesterday that he is conducting a campaign and stressed that he has proof that MEPs "have claimed unscrupulously daily allowances".

"In all the statements that I have made, I always talked about the fact that I have proof. I reject decidedly your assumption that there is zero evidence and I also reject the idea that I am launching a campaign here", Mr Martin
said.