Charged with libel for comments about Qatar, the MEP and vice president of the French National Front has had his parliamentary immunity confirmed by a vote this afternoon (Tuesday 2 February). EURACTIV France reports.
Suspending the immunity of a member of the European Parliament is a commonplace and simple procedure. But a vote that took place in Strasbourg today (2 February) saw Florian Philppot, the vice president of the French National Front (NF), retain this parliamentary privilege.
The extreme right politician is charged with libel for comments he made on Classic Radio in January 2015, in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, when he accused Qatar (and Saudi Arabia) of “financing Islamism that kills”.
The Emirate state brought the defamation case to the district Court of Nanterre, France, in April 2015. But the European Parliament rejected the French court’s request for an immunity waiver, which it submitted in September last year.
In an opinion adopted unanimously on 28 January, the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs committee spoke out against the immunity waiver, supporting the MEP’s right to “freedom of opinion and expression”.
“This is often the way with libel cases,” the French S&D goup MEP Virgine Rozière [Radical Left party] explained. “The European Parliament’s case-law obliges the institution to protect its members in the political stances they take in the exercise of their mandate,” the member of the Legal Affairs committee added.
She stressed that the procedure was automatic, and that “Florian Philippot’s political affiliation was not even taken into account.”
“Last year we had to reject an immunity waiver for the MEP Ana Maria Gomes [Portugal, S&D] for a similar defamation case,” Rozière said.