EU's Guenther Verheugen: "Leave me alone"

13th December 2006, Comments 0 comments

13 December 2006, Strasbourg (dpa) - Germany's embattled European Commission Vice- President Guenther Verheugen on Tuesday asked reporters to stop investigating his private life after a newspaper alleged that nude pictures were circulating of him and his female chief-of-staff. "Leave me alone and in peace," Verheugen, speaking in German, told journalists at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The commissioner added that his chief aide Petra Erler had not been given the job against EU rules but that the

13 December 2006

Strasbourg (dpa) - Germany's embattled European Commission Vice- President Guenther Verheugen on Tuesday asked reporters to stop investigating his private life after a newspaper alleged that nude pictures were circulating of him and his female chief-of-staff.

"Leave me alone and in peace," Verheugen, speaking in German, told journalists at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The commissioner added that his chief aide Petra Erler had not been given the job against EU rules but that the decision was made on the basis of her qualifications.

Verheugen has come under repeated attack in recent weeks following pictures taken during a vacation this summer in Lithuania where he was snapped holding hands with Erler.

Last week Bild newspaper, Germany's biggest selling daily, made the alleged nude pictures of Verheugen and Erler its lead story.

Bild did not publish any nude photos of Verheugen, who is 62, and Erler, 48. The paper said German news magazine Focus had obtained the pictures and was considering publishing them.

The snapshots showed Verheugen wearing only a white baseball cap with the totally nude Erler while lying in the sun and swimming, said the paper.

Bild said Verheugen, who is in charge of the Commission's industry and enterprise portfolio, named Erler his chief-of-staff in April - a promotion which increased her monthly salary to 11,579 euros (15,400 dollars) from 9,045 euros.

Verheugen, however, has received strong support from both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and his boss, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

DPA

Subject: German news

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