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article imageFlemish MP resigns over drunken car crash, claims of prostitute fraud

By AFP     Jul 11, 2019 in World

A Flemish lawmaker who crashed his car drunk and allegedly helped a prostitute claim fraudulent unemployment benefits, resigned Thursday just weeks after being appointed speaker of the regional parliament.

Kris Van Dijck, speaker of Belgium's Flemish regional parliament since last month, gave a speech in Brussels Thursday morning to celebrate the Dutch-speaking community's official holiday, the anniversary of the Battle of the Golden Spurs of July 11, 1302.

He took the opportunity to apologise to supporters for an incident last week when he drunkenly crashed his car on the way home from a pub, but said he would continue in the post.

Shortly after his speech, however, a Flemish news magazine reported Van Dijck, 56, had helped a sex worker set up a fake business only to close it down and claim unemployment payments.

The magazine presented what it said were emails between Van Dijck and the woman and between him and the federal employment minister pushing her case for compensation.

The speaker denied breaking the law and insisted the report was "incorrect".

However, he offered his resignation saying: "Recent events have made it impossible for me to act as speaker of the Flemish parliament."

Van Dijck is the mayor of the town of Dessel and a regional representative in Antwerp for the conservative nationalist N-VA party.

The N-VA would like the regional parliament of Flanders to take on more powers in a country sharply split into French and Dutch-speaking communities.


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