Members of the nationalist Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA) have played down accusations that their party’s resigned parliament leader Kris Van Dijck helped an escort commit fraud, with one saying he only wanted to “help someone out with the administrative merry-go-round,” according to reports.
Van Dijck on Thursday stepped down from his position as president of the Flemish parliament after reports surfaced in local media linking him to a professional escort whom he allegedly helped obtained a fraudulent bankruptcy payout.
The N-VA’s incumbent minister-president of Flanders, Liesbeth Homans, said Van Dijck’s resignation was not an admission of guilt, according to De Standaard.
“He wants to be able to defend himself against the allegations,” she told the outlet. “He wants an independent and serene investigation, which is why he has submitted his resignation.”
Referring to Van Dijk’s abrupt exit from an event commemorating the Day of the Flemish Community, as the allegations emerged, Homans said she found it “very unfortunate that a person like Van Dijk” had to have this experience during the Flemish holiday.
An N-VA ‘family heirloom’
The N-VA’s leader in the regional parliament, Matthias Diependaele, said the resigning president, who is also mayor of the town of Dessel, had only intended to lend a helping hand and that the facts happened “4 or 5 years ago.”
“He convinced us that he only intended to help someone go through the administrative merry-go-round,” he said, adding that “nothing unlawful had ever happened.”
Diependaele added that the party would not judge Van Dijk’s private life: “We are not a tribunal,” he said.
Ben Weyts, N-VA Minister for the Flemish Brussels Periphery, said his faith in Van Dijk’s person was “undamaged,” and lauded his decision to resign from his leadership position.
“He thought it necessary for him to resign, that decorates him — we will see tomorrow how we should continue,” he told De Standaard of who he referred to as a “family heirloom in the N-VA’s living room,” according to the outlet.
Van Dijk’s resignation comes only a week after he was caught in the eye of the storm after being caught driving under the influence.
While Van Dijk said that his decision to resign was “necessary,” he denies the accusations made against him.