Volkskrant must write about cross-border behavior for former D66 member

De Volkskrant is still free to write what she wants about former D66 politician Frans van Drimlen’s cross-border behavior. The previous restrictions imposed by the judge on the newspaper were unfounded. This was decided by the multi-chamber of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal in the appeal of the summary proceedings brought by Van Drimmelen against the newspaper.

Van Drimmelen and D66 got into trouble after that de Volkskrant on Saturday, April 16, it revealed that the former campaign manager had stalked another D66 employee for several months in 2015 and 2016 after she ended a secret affair with him. The ruling party turned out to have kept its hand over his head, especially by withholding an incriminating report on the matter. After the revelation, Van Drimmelen still had to give way. At a special congress Sunday, the D66 went through the dust.

A few hours before the publication of de Volkskrant, in a brief closed-door case, the Amsterdam judge ruled that the newspaper could not accuse Van Drimmelen of “abuse of power” or “sexual harassment”, and could not say that the secret report on this subject was contrary to the initial public report. , in which Van Drimmelen is acquitted. Furthermore, the newspaper was not allowed to quote from the correspondence between Van Drimmelen and his ex-girlfriend, which is included in the secret report.

Safe for the insecure

In the appeal, de Volkskrant wanted this sentence overturned because it would be preventive censorship, which would seriously damage freedom of the press. Lawyer Jens van den Brink said during the court hearing: “It seems that the judge thought that he ‘probably failed’ and has banned all possible conditions for no reason at all. It’s the world upside down. A judge can only ban a newspaper in advance in special circumstances. I can not stress enough how bad it is for a free society. “

Frans van Drimmelen, on the other hand, wanted to tighten up the previous verdict. He demanded in this appeal that the newspaper also stop using the terms #MeToo, cross-border behavior and “such behavior” in future articles about him. Existing articles on the case had to be taken offline by him and the newspaper should post a correction. These claims were rejected.

In press cases such as this, the judge must weigh two fundamental rights: the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy. In other words: between the public interest in the disclosure of the abuse and the data subject’s personal interest. In this case, the social interest (revealing the disguise of a governing party) weighs, according to the lawyer de Volkskrant obviously more important than Van Drimelen’s interest in keeping his private life out of the public eye. It is not yet clear how the judge weighed these fundamental rights. The verdict on Wednesday is a so-called backstabbing verdict, the reasons for the decision will follow at a later date.

‘Otherwise it goes completely wrong’

However, the majority of the hearing, which took place in Amsterdam on Monday, was not about freedom of the press and privacy, but about whether Van Drimmelen had behaved incorrectly. De Volkskrant would thereby demonstrate that there was in fact abuse of power and sexual intimidation, which the newspaper had previously banned from writing. According to the newspaper, Van Drimmelen wanted to force a conversation with his ex-girlfriend. The lawyer quoted from private correspondence: “Otherwise it goes horribly wrong.” Van Drimmelen threatened with “unorthodox means”. He would be “full of revenge.” Van Drimmelen would have threatened to tell his ex-boyfriend’s husband about their secret relationship. According to Van den Brink, he also threatened to send “intimate footage”. The lawyer’s conclusion: “Pursuing someone who does not want to continue a relationship is already a form of sexual harassment, especially in combination with the threat from Van Drimmelen.”

Jurian van Groenendaal, Van Drimelen’s lawyer, however, stated that there was no question of stalking, threats or sexual intimidation: “There is nothing wrong.” According to him, the ex-girlfriend had suddenly ended the affair and Van Drimmelen wanted to know why she broke up. That’s why he called her. The lawyer denies that it was stalking for several months. That would be “a handful of phone calls” over 16 days. It was after a call to leave her alone. “Of course there are emotions. Some messages were also unfriendly.” The lawyer quoted Van Drimmelen: “We had plans with each other and we were going to live together, and I found that difficult.”

The court has handed down a so-called ‘back-end verdict’. The reasons for the decision will follow in a few days. That verdict will then be announced.

Van Drimmelen himself spoke briefly at the end: “There has been an incredible amount of damage … disproportionate … really incredible.”

Leave a Comment