In reply to ESDiario
- 14th December 2017
PDF version here
14 December 2017
BY REGISTERED MAIL
AND BY EMAIL
I refer to the article you wrote and published in esdiario dated 7 December 2017, entitled “Un afamado abogado de Suiza acusa C’s de corrupto y le pillan por mentiroso” (“A famous lawyer from Switzerland accuses Ciudadanos of corruption and is proven to be a liar”).
A copy appears here:
This article is grossly defamatory of me and you had no right to publish it. You accuse me of being a liar but you state no grounds for so serious an accusation. I wonder why you have engaged in so irresponsible a piece of journalism. Let me speculate, based upon incontrovertible facts.
You are one of the early founders / drivers behind Alianza Popular, the Francoist political party associated with Franco’s former Minister of the Interior Manuel Fraga. Fraga, a fascist, supervised the Policia Armada, a fascist police force involved in repressing liberty and democracy in Falangist Spain whose motto was “repression when deemed necessary”.
The Alianza Popular evolved into the Partido Popular, whose current government, under the stewardship of Mariano Rajoy, controls the Guardia Civil. The Guardia Civil has been accused of state-sponsored violence against peaceful demonstrators and voters including firing baton rounds (rubber bullets) at unarmed people seeking access to polling stations.
Now you have published an article describing me as a liar, and you have cited as your basis for this assertion a Catalan nationalist political source. I have been acutely critical of the Partido Popular and a number of Madrid government Ministers associated with that party, including the Spanish Minister of Economy Luis de Guindos who I assert (as do many others) of being associated with cronyism. I wonder whether you know Mr de Guindos personally.
I have raised issues about funding of a Partido Popular proxy political party using potentially corrupt means, and I have called for a judicial investigation. All these concerns are legitimate and based upon facts stated in my writings. Indeed they were the product of several weeks’ work by a team of researchers. You have no grounds for calling me a liar.
The original Catalan nationalist political source, upon which you rely in making your unfounded allegations against me, did not describe me as a liar. You just made that up. You cited no further facts or evidence beyond the original source. You decided to defame me unilaterally. I infer that the reason why you did this may be because you are grossly biased.
You are undeniably associated with the Partido Popular of whom I have been so critical. That is presumably the reason why you have written an article defamatory of me without seemingly undertaking any independent research or investigation. Such a course of conduct would be consistent with your prior political habits, which appear to be associated with fascism / Francoism / Falangism.
The article was subsequently circulated on social networks inter alia operated by Ciudadanos officials / sympathisers. Ciudadanos is well-known to be a proxy party for the Partido Popular and has clear connections with them. Its leader, Albert Rivera, under various criminal investigations and who is known for posing in electoral materials nude, accompanied Luis de Guindos to the secretive 2017 Bilderberg meeting of the financial elite even though Mr Rivera is not a member of the Spanish government and is not a member of the financial elite.
I am disappointed that you published this article without first providing me with an opportunity to comment upon its contents. What you did was unlawful.
I am now writing to inform you that I intend to exercise my right to reply under LO 2/1984. I attach a response article in the English and Spanish languages. I expect you to publish it on your website immediately. If you do not do so, I reserve the right to sue you personally and to sue your organisation; and also to publicise your failure to comply with the law and the fact of the lawsuit against you.
Finally, I reserve the right to publish this letter and my response article upon such terms and in such media as I see fit.
Thank you very much for your careful consideration of the contents of this letter, and I look forward to hearing from you immediately.
Gentium Law Group Sàrl
MATTHEW PARISH: IN REPLY TO ESDIARIO
This article is written as a right of reply to an article published anonymously on the EsDiario website on 7 December 2017. That article criticised my publication of an earlier article, investigating allegations of corruption in the Spanish Ministry of Finance.
I am a lawyer based in Geneva, Switzerland. I formerly worked at the World Bank. I have served as a UN peacekeeper. My work has included legal analysis of electoral systems in divided societies, and schemes of electoral corruption. I am licensed to practise law in England, New York and Switzerland.
My first degree was from Christ’s College, Cambridge University. My doctoral thesis was supervised by one of the most famous jurists in the United States of America. It was subsequently published as an acclaimed work on the resolution of civil conflicts. I am the Managing Partner of a Geneva law firm. A Swiss economics magazine has named me as one of the three hundred most influential people in Switzerland.
In 2016, I worked on the campaign of a candidate to be UN Secretary
General who ultimately came second in the race behind the former Portuguese Prime Minister António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres whom I greatly admire. I have published two books and over two hundred articles, inter alia on international law and the resolution of civil conflicts. I am an advocate of structural reform of international organisations including the United Nations. I used to work for the European Union.
I have no prior involvement in Spanish or Catalan politics. I am not a member of any political party in any country. I have litigated hundreds of cases in my career as a lawyer, including defamation and corruption cases. I am a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum that holds its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
I mention these things because I want to persuade the reader that I am a credible person whose opinions are worth considering. I would not publish serious allegations lightly. I welcome debate and criticism of my views, if it is undertaken in good faith.
On the morning of Tuesday 5 December 2017, I distributed an article called Jean-Claude Juncker and the Catalan Crisis. That article traced a flow of funds from the EU Regional Development Fund to a management consultancy company based in Barcelona and an associated political party called Ciudadanos.
Ciudadanos is standing in the forthcoming Catalan regional elections scheduled to take place on 21 December 2017. My article is published, in Spanish, here.
That was the sixth in a series of articles I have published about the Catalan crisis. The fifth, entitled Votaciones Catalanas, is published here. The first four articles, published only in English, are entitled Reflection on the Catalan Conundrum; Catalan Independence; Sequestering Catalonia; and Catalonia Suppressed. I have since published a seventh, entitled Ballot Fraud in the Catalan Elections: Could it Happen?.
It is important that one reads all of these articles together, because they provide the context for my sixth article which refers to matters in the prior five. One should comment upon all six together, not the sixth article alone.
Early in the morning of Thursday 7 December 2017, a Catalan nationalist website called Vilaweb published an anonymous article in reply to my article on Jean-Claude Juncker. The article was called Desintoxicació: no és cert que Juncker financi Ciutadans amb diners de la Unió Europea (Detoxification: it is not true that Juncker finances Ciudadanos with money from the European Union). Desintoxicació was a criticism of my sixth article on Catalonia. It contained a link to my article, but only to the English version and not to the Spanish version. Vilaweb subsequently published my response on 8 December 2017. Notwithstanding, also on 7 December 2017 a right-wing Spanish website called EsDiario republished an extremely similar article called Un afamado abogado de Suiza acusa a C’s de corrupto y le pillan por mentiroso (A famous Swiss lawyer accuses Ciudadanos of corruption and is proven to be a liar).
Desintoxicació does not mention any of my earlier articles. It does not criticise any of the assertions contained in those earlier articles, which stand uncontested. Bizarrely, Desintoxicació does not mention the name or date of the article it purports to criticise. Desintoxicació is simply an attack upon my personal integrity. The EsDiario article is even worse. It just repeats some of the allegations in Desintoxicació without independent enquiry, without referring to my response, and then adds a headline that brands me a liar. The original Vilaweb article never did that.
My article about Jean-Claude Juncker was the product of several weeks’ intensive work by a team of political researchers operating under my supervision. This article reveals a pattern of potential electoral corruption that, I say, should be the subject of judicial investigation. My legal team is now in the process of preparing judicial complaints to be filed before the courts in both Madrid and Luxembourg. My article was published in four languages: English, French, German and Spanish.
Desintoxicació contains a number of statements and assertions about technical matters, including sensitive financial information not available to the general public. Whereas my article was written with painstaking work over several weeks, Desintoxicació can at most have been the product of 48 hours’ work.
Whereas my article identified its author and was based upon public sources, Desintoxicació did not identify its author and did not describe its sources. In my view the detailed technical information in Desintoxicació is likely to have had only one of two conceivable sources: either the Spanish Ministry of Economy run by Luis de Guindos, who my article (and previous articles) criticise heavily; or the European Commission.
I consider it unlikely that the European Commission provided private information about its operations to the media so quickly as to enable preparation of a rebuttal article within 48 hours. The European Commission is a cumbersome bureaucracy and it cannot operate that quickly, even if it had legal standing to provide such sensitive information.
Therefore I infer that the article may have been prepared with the active cooperation and assistance of Luis de Guindos or one or more of the staff operating under his purview. I cannot prove this. But I have called for a judicial investigation into the matters I raise. I hope that the Spanish legal system will investigate whether the Ministry operating under the auspices of Luis de Guindos might have assisted in the preparation of Desintoxicació. I will be asking that the Spanish courts do this, as part of the legal complaint I shall be filing with the judiciary in Madrid. If I am wrong in my supposition and instead the European Commission provided this information, then I will ask the courts in Luxembourg to reveal this.
I have already reported that Madrid appears to have hired sophisticated international public relations consultants to suppress or rebut media comments supportive of the Catalan autonomy movement. I have also expressed concerns that those media consultants might be associated with an internationally discredited public relations consultancy now in a bankruptcy procedure after it was revealed that it had been inciting racial violence leading to murder in South Africa. Madrid has a history of commercial relations with that organisation. Desintoxicació does not comment upon that accusation.
Under the law, LO 2/1984, I have a right of response to an article that is defamatory of me. I would not ordinarily exercise this right of response to an anonymous article. My typical approach is that articles published anonymously are indicative of a lack of confidence on the part of the authors about what they are saying. But in this case I have decided to exercise my right of response. That is because it has been drawn to my attention that Desintoxicació has been distributed widely on social networks by one or more persons associated with Ciudadanos. Together with the potential connection of Desintoxicació with the Ministry of Economy, my concerns about possible electoral corruption are reinforced by the publication of that article.
Desintoxicació is a strange article. Its title has little to do with its contents. Nothing in Desintoxicació disproves the principal assertion in my article, namely that European Commission funds have been channelled to a so-called management consultancy company with close associations with Ciudadanos. The connection between that company and Ciudadanos is so clear that it cannot credibly be denied (and Desintoxicació does not deny it). Inés Arrimadas, the de facto leader of Ciudadanos, is intimately related to the management consultancy company that has received funds from the European Commission.
The company in controversy has worked on a major project that has advocated public administration reform in Spain. The proposed reforms would effectively rescind provisions of Catalonia’s Statute of Autonomy. The corporate associates of Arrimadas were intimately involved in the rise of Ciudadanos in Andalusia. Ciudadanos has irrefutable associations with the Partido Popular. Ciudadanos serves as a proxy for the Partido Popular in regions of Spain where the Partido Popular is so unpopular that it is unelectable. The European Commission should not be spending EU taxpayers’ funds on such things. Again, none of this is contested by the unnamed author(s) of Desintoxicació.
Desintoxicació says it has demonstrated that certain assertions in my original article are false. It has done no such thing. It has provided a series of obscure technical details about the financing and structure of two organisations, called Comunidad de Trabajo de los Pirineos and Programa INTERREG V-A España-Francia-Andorra. These are organisations through which my team has discovered that the controversial financing has been provided. Yet again, none of this is denied. I have stated that this ought to be subject to judicial investigation. No reasonable person could suggest otherwise.
Desintoxicació provides technical information about these organisations, without justifying what it says. At least one of the assertions that article makes is inconsistent with information captured from the Spanish Ministry of Justice website. But the more important point is this. The details Desintoxicació provides are irrelevant. Even if those assertions were true (and to repeat, the article offers no supporting evidence), they do not challenge my central hypothesis. Desintoxicació does not provide any information to refute my concern that inappropriate political funding has been provided through these organisations.
Desintoxicació is a clever article. It says a number of things that are almost true. Those assertions are somehow (but not clearly) said to be related to my article, that Desintoxicació attacks. Desintoxicació pretends that the near-truths it asserts refute a hypothesis of electoral corruption, when they do not. The article pretends that what it says is related to the title of the article, but that title is misleading having regard to the article’s contents.
Given its sophistication, we must entertain the hypothesis that Desintoxicació may have been written with the assistance of experts in manipulation of the media. I have already stated that I suspect Ciudadanos of being involved electoral engineering. Electoral engineering means manipulating the way people vote, by doing things such as spreading misleading media stories. That is precisely the sort of danger I asked the readers of my original article to be alert to.
The readers of my articles, and of Desintoxicació, must now form their own views. You must ask yourselves whether Desintoxicació is likely to have been published in good faith. Then you must ask yourselves whether, in light of the debate between my team and the anonymous author(s) of Desintoxicació, you consider that Ciudadanos is an appropriate party to vote for in Catalonia’s December 21 elections.
I cannot vote in those elections. But I will be watching, because I want those elections to be fair. Irrespective of your views upon this debate, and irrespective of what you think of me and my opinions, I urge every reader to vote. There is a far higher chance of the elections being fair if people vote. However the people of Catalonia vote, I wish every single one of you, and your families and loved ones, the very best of wishes. Europe is watching keenly the decision that you, the Catalans, will make. Please express your will at the ballot box.
Matthew Parish is an international lawyer based in Geneva.