EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE DISMISSES JOURNALIST'S APPEAL

OLAF /05/07 Brussels, the 22 April 2005

The European Court of Justice dismissed, on 19 April, an appeal lodged by the former Brussels correspondent of the German magazine "Stern". The appeal was directed against the Commission on behalf of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) challenging in particular the transmission of a report to the public prosecutor's offices in Brussels and Hamburg in early 2004.

In his order in case C-521/04 P(R), issued on 19 April and available on the Court's website, the President of the European Court of Justice dismisses the appeal lodged by the German journalist against an earlier order of the President of the Court of First Instance. In that ruling, issued on 15 October 2004, the President of the Court of First Instance held in proceedings for interim measures 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 (see the Court's Press Release Nr. 83/04 pdf).

The European Court of Justice upholds this order and points out the following:

The Court states that "it is common ground that OLAF left it to the discretion of the competent national authorities which action should be taken on the contested transmission". It adds: "As it is apparent from the very wording of the report, OLAF did not request those authorities to take specific measures against" the complainant. The Court also underlines that the transmission of the OLAF report has no binding legal effects on the authorities to which it is addressed: "The action taken by those authorities in response to the information forwarded to them is thus within their sole and entire responsibility".

The Court states that the appellant was not deprived of effective judicial protection. It reaffirms that if OLAF transmits a report to the national authorities, it is "for those authorities to ascertain themselves whether such information justifies or requires the bringing of criminal proceedings." Consequently, "judicial protection against such proceedings must be ensured at national level with all the guarantees provided by national law, including those which follow from the fundamental rights".

In fact, the appellant did indeed lodge complaints with the national judiciary in Belgium and Germany. So far, all his complaints have been dismissed.

A full chronological background of the case is available on the OLAF website.

See also OLAF Press Releases Nr. 2/2005All available translations., Nr. 17/2004All available translations., Nr. 14/2004All available translations., Nr. 7/2004All available translations., Nr. 21/2003All available translations., Nr. 3/2002All available translations.

Alessandro Butticé
Head of Communication, PR and Spokesman Unit
Tel : +32 (0)2 296.54.25
Fax : +32 (0)2 299.81.01

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