Sunday Times Insight pair to give evidence in Austrian corruption trial

Two reporters who worked on The Sunday Times Insight Team are to give evidence into the corruption trial of ex-Austrian interior minister and Member of the European Parliament Ernst Strasser.

Court officials have agreed Claire Newell and Jonathan Calvert can give evidence by video link so their faces will be seen only by the jury, according to the Austrian Times.

The pair posed as lobbyists acting on behalf of hedge fund managers and offered Strasser a €100,000 annual advisor salary to help make the changes they said they needed.

The 56-year-old was one of a number of MEPs secretly filmed as part of the investigation, which saw them set up the fake London-based lobbying firm Bergman & Lynch.

The Sunday Times said allowing the pair to be seen in court could compromise future investigations.

The editor-in-chief of the Austrian daily newspaper OÖNachrichten, Strasser’s local paper, will be watching the case with interest – Gerald Mandlbauer faces a libel claim from Strasser over an editorial. He described the Insight

investigation as “the catalyst that led to the discovery of a large number of similar political scandals here in Austria”.

He said: “The Sunday Times investigation did lead to a lot of unpleasant discoveries in the political landscape here. But at the same time, it has allowed us to clear out the stall of a lot of mess.”

He added that the investigation would not have been possible in Austria because it is illegal to film anybody in secret.

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