German minister's spokesman quits after dressing-down

9th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

The German finance minister's main spokesman resigned Tuesday after a humiliating public dressing-down by his boss that became a smash hit on the Internet.

"My spokesman Michael Offer has asked me to relieve him of his duties as ministerial spokesman. I have granted him this wish today," said Wolfgang Schaeuble, 68, in a statement.

Offer "no longer has the necessary trust he needs for his job", one of the spokesman's colleagues told AFP.

At a press conference last week to explain the government's latest fiscal revenues, Schaeuble discovered that the necessary figures had not been given to the assembled journalists and exploded with rage.

"I said 20 minutes ago it would be good to distribute the figures ... stop talking Mr Offer and get on with handing out the figures," Schaeuble said.

The wheelchair-bound Schaeuble then left the room, saying: "I'm leaving this press conference until you have distributed the figures."

A visibly embarrassed Offer gathered his papers and followed his minister off camera.

A clip of the row became a hit on video-sharing website YouTube, with more than 300,000 views. Mass circulation daily Bild said it had had nearly 200,000 hits on its video of the incident.

The same day the minister, one of Chancellor Angela Merkel's most experienced ministers and one of her closest allies, used unusually strong language to criticise US economic policy.

The spat with Offer also became major news in the press, with Schaeuble telling Bild he had "perhaps overreacted."

He has recently been in the news for lengthy absences from the public eye for illnesses, prompting widespread speculation that he might resign.

Confined to a wheelchair after a 1990 attack by a mentally disturbed man who fired three shots at him, the minister spent weeks in and out of hospital earlier this year after scars from an operation failed to heal properly.

The clip, in German, is at

© 2010 AFP

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