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Axel Springer files criminal complaint against former top editor

Axel Springer is pursuing a felony grievance and civil authorized motion towards a former high tabloid editor sacked for alleged misconduct, in a significant escalation of a brawl that has shaken Germany’s media world.

In a felony grievance filed late final week, the German publishing group accused Julian Reichelt, a former editor of the tabloid Bild, of sharing confidential inner knowledge with one other German media outlet after giving written assurances that he not possessed this knowledge.

In a parallel civil lawsuit filed final week at a Berlin labour court docket, Axel Springer claimed Reichelt had breached the phrases of a monetary settlement agreed after he was ousted from Bild in October 2021. The corporate is pushing for the return of his severance pay, a seven-digit-figure in response to individuals acquainted with the small print, and can be claiming important damages for alleged breach of contract.

Reichelt, 42, is a longtime confidant of Axel Springer chief government Mathias Döpfner and was as soon as one of many nation’s strongest journalists. He was sacked after allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse of energy that he denies.

Axel Springer confirmed that it had filed the civil lawsuit and the felony grievance however declined to remark additional.

Axel Springer boss Mathias Döpfner with former Bild editors and writers Tanit Koch, Julian Reichelt and Kai Diekmann, © Bernd Wüstneck/dpa

The Berlin labour court docket confirmed that the civil grievance, first reported by the German publication Der Spiegel, had been obtained. Felony prosecutors informed the FT that that they had not but formally processed any felony grievance towards Reichelt, however added that this course of might take a number of days.

Reichelt’s lawyer Ben Irle informed the FT that neither he nor his consumer have been conscious of any lawsuit or felony grievance by the writer, including that leaking such data to the media was an “try to intimidate and distract” from alleged flaws in an inner investigation of his consumer’s conduct.

Reichelt was accused of exploiting his place at Bild by having frequent affairs with interns and subordinates and rewarding them with promotions. He has repeatedly acknowledged that every one allegations towards him have been primarily based on “lies”.

The authorized case and grievance have been filed after Axel Springer obtained a warning from one other media group that Reichelt, unsolicited, had supplied handy over confidential inner communication from Axel Springer, in addition to non-public communications involving Springer staff that probably violated their privateness rights, in response to individuals near the small print. The rival writer informed Springer that it had destroyed the info.

The scandal that prompted the ousting of Reichelt resurfaced this month with the publication of a novel impressed by the saga, written by a former Döpfner confidant who performed a key position in encouraging girls to talk up about their experiences.

Per week earlier than the novel got here out, a trove of personal textual content messages from Döpfner to Reichelt have been leaked to German media. Within the messages, Döpfner acknowledged that East Germans have been “both communists or fascists”, railed towards “illiberal Muslims” and praised local weather change. In addition they appeared to point out he had lobbied for optimistic protection of the pro-business Free Democrats within the weeks earlier than a nationwide election in 2021.

Döpfner, who has run Axel Springer since 2002, later apologised for the messages.

The run of adverse headlines underlines how the scandal at Bild continues to reverberate in Germany, the place the tabloid is feared and revered by the political elite. It has additionally raised questions for KKR, the US non-public fairness agency that along with the Canadian pension fund CPPIB owns a 48.5 per cent stake in Axel Springer at a time when the writer is striving to turn out to be a number one media firm within the US.