Powerful German Editor, Accused of Misconduct, Takes Leave

The editor-in-chief of Bild, Europe’s largest newspaper and an influential force in German politics and society, has been on leave while a law firm is investigating allegations against him, the publication’s owner said.

Julian Reichelt, the editor, denies allegations of misconduct, said Axel Springer, Bild’s publisher, in a statement. Springer said there was no “clear evidence” of wrongdoing and instead hired the Freshfields law firm to investigate the allegations. It was not stated what they were.

The allegations were first reported by the magazine Spiegel, in which it says that the law firm questioned half a dozen female employees who worked for Bild and complained about coercion by Mr. Reichelt about complaints about coercion by Mr. Reichelt. Spiegel did not name the female employees. The magazine states that Mr. Reichelt was accused of abusing his position of authority and creating a hostile work environment, but did not provide any explicit information.

“In order to ensure that the investigation process can be seen through to the end undisturbed and that the editorial team can work without any further burdens,” said Springer, Mr. Reichelt, “the Axel Springer Management Board has asked to release him from his functions until the allegations are made.” have been clarified. “

Alexandra Würzbach, editor of the Sunday edition of Bild, will take over the tasks of Mr. Reichelt, said Springer.

The #MeToo movement has hit Europe with much less violence than the United States, and cases of powerful men overthrown on allegations of wrongdoing against women have been relatively rare.

Germany and most European countries protect the identity of suspects in legal proceedings, which makes it difficult for the media to report cases of harassment.

Dishes were often unsympathetic. In 2019, a French court ordered the leader of the country corresponding to the #MeToo movement to pay damages to a former television manager whom she accused of making brutal and humiliating advances.

With a circulation of 1.2 million copies, Bild is Europe’s largest newspaper, but like most publications it has seen a sharp decline in its print readership. In 2011, daily printing revenue averaged 2.8 million, according to the newspaper’s website, down from 4 million in 1965.

With its colorful graphics and the focus on scandal, celebrities and sport, Bild – which means “Bild” – is Germany’s populist daily newspaper. The readership distorts masculine. Until 2012, Bild published a photo of a topless woman on the front page every day and continues to publish photos of half-naked “Bild Girls” online.

Unlike Britain’s right-wing tabloids, Image is relatively impartial yet empathetic, with an aggressive tabloid style despite being printed on a broadsheet format. Because of the reach of Bild, it is often the publication that leaders use to communicate with voters and offer exclusive interviews or juicy leaks.

Mr. Reichelt, 40, a former war correspondent who became editor-in-chief of Bild in 2017, also frequently wrote opinion pieces. He recently railed against the federal government’s mismanagement of the pandemic crisis. Earlier this month, he complained that the authorities fined joggers for not wearing masks, while the federal and state governments botched the introduction of vaccines.

Axel Springer, the parent company of Bild, is one of the best-known media companies in Europe. Springer also owns Welt, a German daily newspaper; the Business Insider online news site; and Politico Europe. The private equity company KKR owns 36 percent of Springer’s shares and has three seats on the company’s nine-member supervisory board. Friede Springer, widow of the founder Axel Springer, remains the main shareholder and board member.

Springer said in a statement on Saturday that the investigation involving Mr. Reichelt would include “an assessment of the credibility and integrity of all parties involved”.

The publisher added: “Prejudices based on rumors are not acceptable for the corporate culture of Axel Springer.”

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