Jacques Barrot, the EU Justice Commissioner,
has warned Bishop Richard Williamson that he faces prosecution
in many European countries if he repeats his controversial opinions
about the alleged Holocaust of European Jews.
Speaking at a meeting of European justice ministers in Brussels
last week, M. Barrot said:
"If Bishop Williamson were to repeat his negationist remarks
in France, he could be punished under French law."
What £2 million?
European Justice Commission Jacques Barrot protests his innocence.
But just who is Jacques Barrot to
be lecturing anyone on history, legality, morality or anything
Jacques Barrot was himself convicted by the French courts in 2000
and received an eight-month suspended prison sentence for his
involvement in the embezzlement of £2 million in state funds
diverted to his political party. The case was part of a major
scandal in French politics, but like several others involved M.
Barrot escaped scot free under a presidential pardon.
Following this pardon French law - which bars discussion of historical
opinions by Bishop Williamson, Robert Faurisson and others - also
bars any public reference to M. Barrot's conviction and suspended
prison sentence. If I were a French journalist it would be illegal
for me to write this article, even though every word of it is
Barrot was pardoned by his close political
ally, former French President
Jacques Chirac, seen here (centre) with Joseph Sitruk,
Chief Rabbi of France (left) and Moshe Katsav, President of Israel
Secured by this blanket of censorship,
M. Barrot failed to reveal his conviction when he was appointed
to the European Commission in 2004. British MEP Nigel Farage raised
the issue in the European Parliament and called for M. Barrot's
resignation - a call endorsed by Graham Watson, leader of the
British Liberal Democrat group in the Parliament. Mr Watson accused
M. Barrot of "an unacceptable abuse of trust", adding
that the commissioner was "seriously compromised by the revelation
of his conviction and suspended jail sentence for conduct that
is illegal in many EU member states". Martin Schulz, leader
of the Socialist group in the Parliament, also expressed serious
Needless to say M. Barrot, a close political ally of Jacques Chirac,
the French President who pardoned him, never had to explain or
apologise, let alone resign. With inimitable Eurocratic irony
he was appointed Justice Commissioner last year.