Update on the Tillack case

CFI rejects interim measures in German journalist’s case.

The German journalist Hans-Martin Tillack’s court case against the European Commission has been going on for a while, now the European Court of First Instance rejected his application for interim measures: The court decided that „prima facie, the application for annulment of the forwarding to the national judicial authorities of information held by OLAF and the application for compensation in respect of damage allegedly suffered cannot be upheld“ (full decision).

As mentioned earlier, there was a controversial raid of Tillack’s office apparently instigated by the European Anti-Fraud Office OLAF. The latest court decision is only an interim decision that deals neither with the question of the raid nor with the allegations against Tillack — that he bribed an EU official to get documents. According to a Focus report, a Belgian civil court already decided in mid-September that the raid was legal.

Later on: I wrote this minutes before I saw Michael Froomkins’s posting The EU Needs a First Amendment citing an article by Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. The newspaper article apparently mixes up preliminary and final judgment; in addition, the court doesn’t say „that the case was a strictly Belgian matter“ in its decision. But I strongly agree with Michael’s dislike of „a very broad attempt to seize all of a journalist´s notes“ and I really hope Belgium gets proper press freedom very soon.

4 Kommentare

  • please clarify…

    does this mean that the EU gets immediate access to Tillack’s files, or not.

    (sorry for the english, but you don’t want to see how i mangle Deutsche..)

  • That’s a hard question: I find it difficult to extract that from the court decision. In the section „Facts“ the court mentions that Tillack „applied for (…) an order that OLAF refrain from obtaining, inspecting, examining or hearing the contents of any documents and information in the possession of the Belgian judicial authorities“ and says that he did so „by separate document“.

    However, the decision itself centers on the „application for annulment of the measure forwarding the information“ from OLAF to the national authorities. The President of the Court finds that this forwarding „does not give rise to any binding legal effect“ and therefore „is not challengeable before the Community judicature“.

    I’m not sure whether the court just skipped the question or whether it will deal with this question separately. (The Focus article above also mentions only the forwarding of information from OLAF to the national authorities.)

  • Couple of comments, firstly Focus would probably play up any difficulties for Stern, after all doing down your competition is professional courtesy. Secondly though there is as you note room for appeal over the following two months, very rarely are decisisons overturned.
    Oh and from what I understand the Commission already has copies of the documents taken from Tillack

  • Gawain, you’re probably right that there usually is Focus-Stern rivalry, but there is also a sense of „press solidarity against a common enemy“. Tillack’s perspective on Brussels made him a bit of a loner among German journalists writing about the EU (small wonder the Daily Telegraph writer likes him), but there really was general outrage about the raid. Tillack provided Focus with quotes, and the article certainly highlights his side of the story.