Published On: Thu, Feb 13th, 2020

Von der Leyen humiliated during brutal grilling on failures as German defence minister | World | News


She was grilled over the handing out of lucrative contracts to outside firms during her time as defence minister. Opposition politicians have questioned how the data on two mobile phones used by Ms von der Leyen came to be deleted, which could have been used as evidence in the parliamentary inquiry. One of the devices was replaced in January 2019 and the second was used until she took the top seat at the EU Commission.

She has previously told MPs that both phones had been handed back to the ministry and wasn’t aware that any data had been wiped from the devices.

Last year it emerged one phone she had used had all its messages wiped in August 2019, after investigators had spent months requesting to see it.

The defence ministry said the device had been wiped accidentally and blamed human error after it was handed in.

According to a report cited by German daily Der Spielgel, officials found her second phone “contains neither the business area folder nor the SMS messages and files folder”.

It was apparently wiped clean before being handed into the ministry.

Frau von der Leyen, who became the European Commission’s president after 14 years in Angela Merkel’s cabinet, admitted rules were broken while handing out contracts to outside experts, which, in today’s hearing, she claimed was necessary.

The German said work on bringing the military into the 21st century “could not have been done without help from outside”.

She added the defence ministry would have to continue using similar levels of outside help in the future.

German parliamentarians have already gathered over 4,000 documents and questioned 30 people over the outside contracts row.

The chief eurocrat avoided cameras as she was smuggled into the hearing at the Bundestag earlier today.

Ahead of the hearing, a spokesman for Frau von der Leyen said there was “no evidence” to support the idea that a “cover up” had taken place.

They also pointed to German government statements, adding that it had found “no evidence or even clues that there could have been something which might have been evidence on her phone”.

The German defence ministry has previously said the department had “provided all the available documents that are subject to investigation” and that there was “no real reason to take any further action”.

Frau von der Leyen’s appearance is meant to conclude evidence after about a year



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