A reader who was present at the press conference and privy to the arrangements sent us the following account of what happened:
The only people who are allowed to give press conferences in the EP are members of the European Parliament (MEPs). MEPs can, however, invite other groups, whom they support or with whom they work, to give press conferences, in which case, however, the inviting MEP has to be present at the press conference.- - - - - - - - -
When the demonstration was being organized the Vlaams Belang (VB) suggested that Udo Ulfkotte hold a press conference at the EP. Because the VB did not want to impose itself they proposed to arrange for a non-VB MEP to invite the SIOE people. To this end the Italian MEP Mario Borghezio was asked to invite them, which he graciously did.
However, on Tuesday morning the Brussels police beat up Mr. Borghezio and arrested him together with Frank Vanhecke, one of the VB MEPs. Hence, SIOE would not be able to give its press conference, arranged by Mr. Borghezio, because Mr. Borghezio would not be able to attend. [Note: Mario Borghezio is visible in the right-hand photo below, wearing a green scarf. — BB]
Since SIOE did not know any MEPs they called upon the help of others, and eventually, Philip Claeys, a VB MEP who had escaped arrest, agreed replace Mr. Borghezio and invite Anders Gravers and Steve Gash to the EP. It became rather embarrassing for him when it turned out that Mr. Gravers was wearing a bulletproof vest which ignited the flash lights of the metal detector. An account of this was posted at the Brussels Journal.
The security people really came out in force when a female associate of Mr. Gravers’ from SIAD also wanted to get through with a bulletproof vest. She did not want to reveal the cause of the problem with the metal detector, and the security people were concerned. It took some time to sort out these difficulties.
Even the head of the EP security staff had to be called in to get Mr. Gravers’ group through, and Mr. Claeys had to offer the security staff his apologies. No one has ever entered the EP buildings in a bulletproof vest.
According to the rules of the EP, Mr. Claeys had to be one of those giving the press conference. Obviously he wanted to talk about the arrest of his party chairman and fellow MEP Frank Vanhecke. This was not to the liking of Mr. Gravers and Mr. Gash, who refused to address the press alongside a member of the VB. Hence, they went to sit in the room with the audience, while Mr. Claeys, together with Koen Dillen, another VB MEP, gave the press conference, making it quite clear that they were not the organizers of the demonstration.
Of course, some of the journalists asked questions relating to SIOE. When Mr. Gash intervened to answer them from the middle of the room, the journalists told them that the audience had to keep quiet and that if he wanted to say something he had to sit with Mr. Claeys, whereupon Mr. Claeys invited him to join him, which he refused. Thereupon Mr. Gash and Mr. Gravers left the room, shouting to Mr. Claeys that he had hijacked their demonstration.
If any other readers who were at the press conference want to supply additional details, please email them to us, or leave them in the comments.