Freedom party MP resigns following allegations

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Freedom Party PVV MP James Sharpe has decided to resign his seat in the Dutch parliament following controversy over his past life.

Mr Sharpe was discredited when it became clear on Tuesday that he was in charge of the Hungarian telecom company Digitania when it received a record fine in 2008 for misleading customers. He initially denied the report, but he later admitted to PVV leader Geert Wilders that the story was true. The Hungarian company received a further fine earlier this year.

There was more negative publicity about Mr Sharpe on Thursday when the newspaper published comments by a former girlfriend with whom he had a relationship 20 years ago. The woman spoke of receiving physical and mental abuse by Mr Sharpe, which she says still affect her to this day.

On Wednesday, there were newspaper reports that Mr Sharpe had been suspended for six months from the Athletics Association for pushing a spike in the face of a fellow athlete .

Mr Sharpe has admitted to being portrayed as a "half criminal", and told that he has decided to resign his parliamentary seat because he fears further allegations, especially from his ex-wife whom he claims is out to destroy him. But he still inists that he has not actually done anything wrong.

Under the Dutch system, the Freedom Party will retain its 24 seats in parliament. That is important for the minority government, which depends on the support of the Freedom Party to get its policies through. Mr Sharpe's seat will automatically be allocated to the 25th person on the Freedom Party's candidate list. That is 62-year old Ino van den Besselaar. According to the PVV, he specializes in social policy and worked for 11 years at the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Earlier, Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders had decided to keep another controversial MP, Eric Lucassen, in the parliamentary party to maintain the majority for the coalition government. Mr Lucassen was discredited when it emerged that, as an army instructor, he was convicted of indecent acts with two subordinates. Also some of his former neighbours accused him of intimidation and violence.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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