Newspaper boss quits over Borer story

Mathias Nolte is stepping down with immediate effect Keystone

The editor-in-chief of the SonntagsBlick has resigned after the paper accused ex-Swiss ambassador, Thomas Borer, of having an affair.

This content was published on July 11, 2002 - 14:04

Mathias Nolte quit after a woman who claimed she had an affair with Switzerland's former ambassador to Germany, Thomas Borer, recanted her story.

The resignation came as the paper's publisher, Michael Ringier, faced growing legal pressure for printing the claims by Berlin beautician, Djamila Rowe, that she had sex with Borer.

On Wednesday, Borer said he had instructed his lawyers to look at suing Riniger - one of Switzerland's biggest and most powerful publishers - in the United States.

Reacting to news of Nolte's resignation, the ex-diplomat told Swiss radio that the damage to his reputation had already been done and that the gesture was "too little, too late".

"No satisfactory apology has been given to me by Ringier," Borer added.

All lies

The SonntagsBlick triggered a media firestorm in April when it published photographs of Rowe allegedly leaving the Berlin embassy late at night.

The paper claimed Rowe had met Borer behind his wife, Shawne Fielding's back. Nude photos of Rowe, taken in 1992 for a German magazine, accompanied the report.

The newspaper's sister publication, the Blick, followed up the claims by quoting Rowe as saying that she had repeatedly had sex with Borer.

However last week, Rowe sensationally recanted her story, claiming that SonntagsBlick journalist, Alexandra Würzbach, had placed her under massive psychological pressure to frame Borer with false sex claims.

Rowe signed a sworn statement saying Ringer had offered her "substantial sums" of money to reveal an "affair" with Borer.

The scandal prompted Borer to resign as ambassador after the Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, ordered his recall to Bern.

Heads roll

In a statement released by Ringier on Thursday, the publishing house said Würzbach had tendered her resignation along with the 49-year-old Nolte.

Ringier said the reason for Nolte's departure, after only six months in the job, was the "heavily burdened sense of mutual trust" between the publisher and the editor.

The case has severely damaged the reputation of Ringier and raised questions about the journalistic standards of his publications.

Rowe claims the SonntagsBlick published without her permission nude photographs taken by the German magazine "Super-Illu" in 1992.

"Super-Illu" this week accused Würzbach of obtaining the photos improperly by pretending to research a story on East Germany as a pretext to gain access to the magazine's photo library.

Fridolin Luchsinger, a Ringier spokesman, said Würzbach had blatantly violated journalistic principles by obtaining the "Super-Illu"photos of Rowe. Ringier has since paid the magazine for damages.

Bitter fallout

For Borer, who now works as a business consultant in Berlin, the case continues to have personal ramifications.

His wife Fielding - a former Miss Texas - said the scandal surrounding her husband had triggered a miscarriage.

Earlier this week she also lashed out at Deiss, describing him as "corrupt" and unwilling to defend his embattled ambassador.

Ringer said in its statement on Thursday that Rowe had been ordered by a German court not to repeat her statement that she had been pressured into framing Borer under threat of a €250,000 (SFr367,500) fine.

by Jacob Greber

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