A Dutch MP has been forced to resign after he was caught out in a spoof interview about the case of a controversial Muslim extremist and went on at great length about the matter when interviewed by a reporter from a radio talk show.
In the surprise interview outside parliament, Labour Party MP John Leerdam was asked by the reporter from Radio 3FM about Yael Yablahblah, also known as “the Hague street terrorist”.
The reporter referred to how he had been released from custody because of a judicial error.
The reporter, who was making up the story, fooled the politician into speaking seriously about the “controversy”. But instead of saying he had never heard anything about a Mr Yablahblah, the MP pretended to be on top of the issue. Mr Leerdam spoke gravely and at length about how he had been fully briefed on the case by his people.
The only problem was Yael Yablahblah does not exist and the entire story was a fabrication.
Mr Leerdam told the reporter that he was “fully conversant” with the case – and deeply concerned about its implications and how the fallout should be handled. He went on to name a fellow Labour Party MP, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, whom he said had briefed his colleagues over how the error had occurred – adding that he was not in a position to divulge the specifics of the confidential briefing.
He also claimed to have discussed the Yablahblah case in some detail with the chairman of the parliamentary Labour Party.
When pressed by the reporter about what more he knew about the case, he replied cryptically, “More than you . . . ”
In the course of the interview, Curaçao-born Mr Leerdam, an MP for eight years, who has a Master of Fine Arts from Columbia University in the US, was also asked about the policies of “Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon”.
Here again he spoke at length about the Israeli statesman’s policies, appearing to be unaware that he has been in a coma since 2006.
In his resignation statement, Mr Leerdam accepted that his performance – which has sparked a new debate about whether anything politicians say can be believed – had damaged his credibility, the credibility of his party and that of parliament.
The resignation comes as an early embarrassment to the new leader of the Labour Party, Diederik Samsom, who described Mr Leerdam’s deception as “a bit stupid”.
This is not the first time this radio presenter has caught people out in a sting – Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte being one of them.
- Dutch MP quits after feigning knowledge of fictional terrorist, The Irish Times