German president in loan scandal

GERMAN President Christian Wulff personally called the editor of Bild, the country’s top-selling newspaper, last month and threatened legal action if it published a story on a private home loan he received at cheap interest rates.

Bild confirmed media reports yesterday that the head of state had left a message on its chief editor Kai Diekmann’s voicemail in which he threatened the paper with legal action and expressed outrage about its plans to publish the story.

The paper said Wulff had called back days later to apologise for the “tone and content” of the voice message, without giving further details.

Wulff, a conservative ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, has faced intense pressure from German media to step down since Bild reported in December that he misled lawmakers in his home state of Lower Saxony over his ties to a wealthy businessman whose wife gave him the €500,000 home loan.

Wulff has since apologised for the loan scandal and received the backing of Ms Merkel and Germany’s top parties. But news that he intervened personally to prevent the Bild story from being published, all while on an official trip to the Gulf, could increase pressure on him, especially as he made a point of speaking out in favour of press freedom when he made his apology last month.

A spokesman for the Association of German Journalists condemned Wulff’s actions yesterday.

Wulff’s problems risk reflecting negatively on Ms Merkel, who pushed for him to get the presidency.

* Reuters


More in this Section

‘Radical culture change’ needed in Irish banks

‘Earn the public’s trust’, says developer of Limerick's King’s Cross

IT@Cork awards laud tech talents

M20 motorway can bring thousands of new jobs


Breaking Stories

20 minutes more daily commuting 'equals 19% pay cut in measuring job satisfaction'

Lifestyle

A helicopter put a piano on the 150-foot roof of Blarney Castle and other stories from the Cork Jazz Festival archives

Jazz Memories: Famous faces share their favourite moments

Live music review: The Horrors - Icy genius in a thrillingly intimate setting

Choosing a sheltered spot for Maples is vital

More From The Irish Examiner