As MEP is jailed thanks to Sunday Times Insight sting – police investigate intimidation claim

ernst strasser

Austrian police are investigating an attempt to intimidate two British journalists from giving evidence in an anti-corruption trial after a fake fax was sent to a lawyer representing the pair alleging that they were under investigation for illegal methods while working for the Sunday Times insight team, reports the Austrian Times.

Journalists Jonathan Calvert and Claire Newell were due to give evidence by live video link yesterday in the case of the former Austrian interior minister and member of the European Parliament Ernst Strasser – who was jailed for four years yesterday after being found guilty of taking bribes after a Sunday Times sting.  The 56-year-old member of the conservative Austrian People's Party (OeVP) was one of four MEPs caught up in a "cash-for-laws" scandal in 2011.

The Sunday Times pair were posing as lobbyists acting on behalf of hedge fund managers and offered Strasser a 100,000 Euros annual advisor salary to help make the changes they said they needed – and they recorded their discussions using a hidden camera, something which is illegal in Austria.

The anonymous and undated fax sent to the lawyers dealing with the case in England on behalf of the Sunday Times claimed that the pair were the subject of a police investigation as a result of the recording.

Strasser denied having anything to do with the fax.

Strasser was one of a number of MEPs secretly filmed as part of the undercover investigation in which they set up a fake lobbying firm, London based Bergman & Lynch.

The court heard that the Sunday Times had been against allowing the pair to be seen in court as it would make it hard for them to carry out investigative work in the future, and in the end it was accepted they could use a video link-up in which the pair would be hidden from the public and other journalists.

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