Three European Parliament members are under investigation on corruption allegations. The Sunday Times says journalists posing as lobbyists offered 60 MEPs bribes to propose law amendments. The British paper said Austrian Ernst Strasser, of the European People’s Party, Slovenian Zoran Thaler and Romanian Adrian Severin — both in the parliament’s Socialists & Democrats group, took the bait, all three of them former government ministers. The first two have quit their MEP seats. The third has not. Former Romanian deputy prime minister Adrian Severin in Bucharest denied the allegations. So did the others, saying they had stepped down to give probes into the matter free rein. Severin said: “I have informed my colleagues about the whole situation and about my hope that an inquiry in the European Parliament will be started as soon as possible, so that everything will be clarified.” An alliance of transparency campaigners has urged a thorough overhaul of ethics rules for MEPs. Olivier Hoedeman, with ALTER-EU, said: “I am afraid it is not an isolated case. The fact that these three MEPs were so eagerly accepting the deal that was made I think is a very bad sign. It shows that there are MEPs who are corruptible, and I will be surprised that this is only those three.” Institutional reform group ALTER-EU said: “This scandal could be the tip of the iceberg.” Critics say many MEPs hold second jobs that lead to conflicts of interest and that current ethics rules are inadequate.
Demands for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign have for the first time reached the northern city of Sa’dah. Thousands turned out with banners condemning his regime and calling for his three-decade rule to end. Opposition parties have warned if the leader doesn’t respond he will face the same fate as the toppled rulers of Egypt and Tunisia. So far most of the demonstrations have been in the capital, Sanaa, but a teenager is said to have died in clashes with soldiers in Aden. The pressure on Saleh to go has been growing for more than a week. At least a dozen people have died and opposition parties are in no mood to accept the president’s offer of a dialogue. They want a root and branch reform of the political system which has for decades favoured Saleh’s allies.