‘Barrot affair’ under legal appraisal

barrot2.jpg

The Parliament’s legal service is currently examining
a ‘letter of explanation’ from Jacques Barrot on his
amnesty related to corruption charges in 2000.

Incoming Transport Commissioner Jacques
Barrot has sent the Parliament a ‘letter of
explanation’ concerning a 2000 amnesty granted
to him in a party funding scandal revealed on 18
November.

“If the legal service considers that the
explanations given in this letter are satisfactory, then
as far as the Socialist Group is concerned, the affair is
over,” Socialist Group leader Martin Schulz said.
“Mr Barrot has expressed to me his regret that he
did not bring up this issue earlier,” he added.

In the letter, Barrot reportedly argues that there was
no reason for him to mention the affair as, after the
amnesty, the matter was expunged from the records under
French law.

On the day of investiture of the incoming Barroso
Commission, it was revealed Barrot had received a
suspended eight-month sentence in 2000 for his
involvement in a political party funding scam (see
EURACTIV, 
19 Nov. 2004

)

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
(ALDE) had immediately called on the President of the
Commission “to react quickly and, together with the
French government, to clarify the facts and to decide how
to proceed”.

“In many other EU countries his conviction would
disqualify him from office and such an amnesty would be
unthinkable,” ALDE leader Graham Watson argued.

Incoming Commission President Barroso expressed his
confidence in Barrot but at the same time said he would
have found it “useful” to have been informed
about Barrot’s past.

The ‘explanation letter’ is now being examined
by lawyers in the Parliament’s legal service, giving
Barrot some days or maybe even a few weeks breathing
space.

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