HaltertThere is discussion about the lawyer who hired mayor Veerle Baeyens (N-VA) after the police unions and Vlaams Belang had filed a complaint against her after the parking fine incident. According to Vlaams Belang, the lawyer would be paid with tax money. According to Baeyens herself, she pays her lawyer herself for personal matters. She speaks again of a damage operation.
The complaints were filed after the mayor was accused of abuse of power, because she allegedly insisted on the dismissal or transfer of a police inspector who had issued parking fines to visitors to the N-VA dinner party. She herself has always denied this. The opposition convened an extra city council last week for a confidence vote on Baeyens. Coalition partners CD&V and Vooruit have retained confidence in the mayor for the time being, though according to the opposition, the vote did not proceed correctly because Baeyens himself voted.
At the police council of last Monday evening, Vlaams Belang was told that Baeyens will be assisted by a lawyer. “We were astonished when we learned that this counselor will be paid by the police zone in question Haaltert-Denderleeuw. Paid with public money, therefore”, the party says. “For the mayor to have the audacity to have her lawyer’s fees paid with taxpayers’ money, while she is already in the eye of the scandal storm, once again shows a total lack of ethics, let alone a sense of guilt.”
function as mayor
“The mayor uses the excuse that the complaints relate to her functioning as mayor, that it is therefore perfectly justifiable that her defense is at the expense of the community. Our party therefore wonders whether the police officer involved can also count on a lawyer paid by the police zone, since it is also, and above all, his job that matters?
Council member Jan Schelfhout (Vlaams Belang) was present at the police council on Monday evening: “In case of urgency, the police college has appointed a counselor to assist the mayor in all complaints,” he says. “If you haven’t done anything wrong, you shouldn’t hire a lawyer. She refers to her position as mayor, but the police officer in question was also in office.”
“These are again lies in the context of a damage operation”
According to mayor Veerle Baeyens (N-VA), Vlaams Belang’s claims are incorrect. “Once again, they are lies in the context of a damage operation,” said Baeyens. “A lawyer has been appointed in the context of the strike notice and/or other complaints in the context of police files. In addition, in the context of a complaint from VB against my mandate as mayor, a counselor was also appointed through the legal assistance of my insurance.”
“As far as personal matters are concerned, I pay my own lawyer’s fees today, in the past and in the future, including, for example, during the ungovernability that was previously mentioned. This can simply be proven with payments and invoices. The law firm can also perfectly confirm that files are booked on separate accounts and will also be paid separately. I ask Mr. Schelfhout once again to base himself on facts instead of untruths and not to spread unproven facts. This is clearly a targeting of the mandate as mayor and my person with pure lies,” says the mayor.
Schelfhout maintains that the police council confirmed that the lawyer would be paid at the expense of the police zone. Council member Nathalie Meganck (Centre list) was also present at the police council: “There was indeed an acknowledgment at the police council that the police council has appointed a counselor in case of urgency,” she says. “Jan Schelfhout asked whether this was the same counselor as the one who represents her (Baeyens, ed.) in her private case (the police officer involved would like to file a complaint against her, ed.). She has denied this and said that the counselor represents her in her position as mayor with regard to the notice of strike and the police. However, she also said that she had spoken to her lawyer that day and that she had confirmed that no complaint had been received from the police officer involved. It is therefore about the same counselor who represents her in her position as mayor with regard to the strike notice. Vlaams Belang’s complaint has not been discussed.”
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