Despite allegations Lode Vereeck has no intention of taking a back seat

Despite an investigation into allegations that he behaved inappropriately towards female students at Hasselt University where he is a lecturer, the liberal Lode Vereeck has told VRT News that he has no intention of taking a back seat during the final days of the local election campaign.  

On Monday Hasselt University confirmed that the Judicial Authorities had opened an investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Mr Vereeck who is an economics lecturer at the university.  Mr Vereeck is the first candidate on the liberal list in the Limburg municipality of Diepenbeek.  His party has questioned the timing of the investigation, coming as it does just days before the local elections.

Speaking on Monday, Hasselt University’s spokesman Koen Santermans told journalists that "A number of complaints have been made to the Rector and after seeking legal advice these have been passed them on to the judicial authorities. We are not going to give details about the nature of the complaints”.

The Flemish liberal Senator Mr Vereeck said they he would lend his full cooperation to the investigation.

“Underestimated the power of social media”

Despite a request made by the leader of the Flemish Liberals Gwendolyn Rutten for him to take a back seat in the campaign, Mr Vereeck told VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De Ochtend’ that he has no intention of doing so.

Mr Vereeck added that he had never touched anyone nor had he used explicit language. However he did concede that he had “underestimated the power of social media” and that he sometimes signs text messages with a kiss.

"I acted as I have always acted in my everyday life.  It is just that things are maybe come over differently within the context of social media. This is about me signing a text with an “X” (a kiss) after a female student had done the same thing in a text that she had sent to me. I realise that I need to be much more careful”. Mr Vereeck said.

"I have complete faith in the Judicial Authorities and hope that it will soon become clear that I’m innocent. I want to cooperate with the investigation. Let me be clear I have not done anything that is illegal or unacceptable”, Mr Vereeck added.   

Mr Vereeck went on to say that he believe that there is a political motive behind the investigation. He added that despite the call from his party leader to take a back seat in the campaign he has no intention of doing so.

"My branch expects of me that I show my face and that we throw ourselves completely into the campaign”.