– European parliament refuses to release expenses report (Telegraph, June 9, 2011):
The European Parliament is refusing to release a secret report detailing widespread abuse of MEPs expenses despite an EU court ruling that there is “overriding public interest in disclosure”.
The existence of the document, written by Robert Galvin, a senior EU official who is the parliament’s chief internal auditor, was first disclosed by The Daily Telegraph in 2008.
Despite public controversy across Europe over misuse of generous allowances paid to MEPs, parliament officials have fought tooth and nail to keep the Galvin report, number 06/02, secret.
During an internal investigation, Mr Galvin discovered large scale abuse of £185 million in MEP staffing allowances and general expenditure expenses, paid without receipts.
Parliament lawyers argued that publicising the report “could be used to derail” decision-making in the EU assembly.
“The use members make of the allowances available to them is a sensitive matter followed with great interest by the media,” said a legal submission.
EU judges threw out the special pleading in a judgement on Tuesday but parliament officials yesterday continued to refuse to disclose the report until an administration decision on whether to appeal in August.
Ciaran Toland, the Irish lawyer who took the case to court, said he was disappointed that parliament would not hand over the document.
“They should publish it and accept the finding of the court. It is a principle that this kind of report should be published now and in the future,” he said.
“No self-respecting parliament should ever be afraid to discuss its finances in front of the citizens who elect it, and who pay for those very funds.”
Heidi Hautala, a Finnish Green MEP, said: “Instead of inventing trumped excuses to deny citizens access to information that should be in the public domain anyway, the parliament should be helping.”