TV claim of widespread cocaine use in EU parliament is rejected

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The broadcaster, Sat-1, sent reporters to take 46 swabs from lavatories and other public areas in the large parliament complex in Brussels, finding that nearly all tested positive for cocaine. But the European Parliament said the results were unlikely because lavatories in the building are cleaned each day. Five years ago, the same broadcaster performed a similar test in the Bundestag in Berlin which produced similar results.

Whatever the scientific merit of the investigation, it seems unlikely that MEPs would have been responsible for the traces of cocaine that the broadcaster claimed to discover. Each MEP has a small, private bathroom attached to their office and would be running an unnecessary risk if they used lavatories open to the public to snort cocaine.

But with a large population of political aides - many of whom are young - and with public access to the building, the discovery of some traces would not be surprising. Jaume Duch, a spokesman for the parliament, said: "We do not take this seriously because we believe it is not serious. We were not contacted officially and we do not think these tests have been conducted in a thorough manner. We have contacted our medical services who say the findings are too high to be credible statistically. They do not teach drug-testing at journalism school."

The producer of the AKTE 05 TV show, Ulrich Meyer, said consumption of cocaine was a problem which pervaded all of society, "bigger than many politicians are willing to believe. [But] we do not wish to point our fingers at any individuals or professional groups".

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