We are very sorry to report that Andreas appeal of his “simple slander” conviction has been rejected by the Appeals Court. Andreas intends to take the case to the Greek Supreme Court, since there were several striking contradictions and problems in the written judgment.
To remind you of this case, it is a slander case brought by Nikolaos Stroblos, who was the director of the Greek national accounts division of statistics from 2006 to 2010 (this is the time period in which the European Union expressed concerns with the quality and reliability of Greek national statistics). Stroblos alleged that Andreas slandered him in a press release in July 2014 which Andreas issued to defend the revised deficit numbers. It is indeed ironic that Andreas has been found liable of slandering one of the many individuals who repeatedly slandered him by propagating falsities himself. It is especially egregious that the judgment requires Andreas to issue a public apology in a major newspaper. Andreas was simply speaking the truth, and doing his duty to defend statistics produced under his watch.
Moreover, this civil slander case has always been a platform which Andreas’ detractors used as a public forum to defend the pre-2010 government fiscal statistics, exonerate the past statistical malpractice, and attack the revised Greek statistics. During those trials, Georgios Kouris, the former General Secretary of the Ministry of Finance, testified that “in the period 2004-2009 no intervention in the statistics took place,” and this plainly misleading statement was highlighted and widely publicized in press coverage of the trials. Some individuals who had held high Greek government positions publicly cheered Andreas’ initial conviction in the civil slander case, and they linked this conviction to the other allegations of Andreas inflating the deficit.
This slander case is simply one more example of how the persecution of Andreas Georgiou was conducted on multiple fronts and continues today. The expectation that Andreas publish a written apology in a newspaper is a tactic that does not belong in a modern democratic society. Andreas is also subjected to monetary penalties of 18,500 euro plus 200 euro for every day of delay in publication of the public apology. The entire Greek concept of “simple slander” – the idea that telling the truth can be a form of slander – sends a chilling message to all who stand up to power. It is time for the Greek judicial system to do the right thing and end the saga.
Doing his duty to defend statistics
Greek law 4051 requires Greek all public officials to “defend [Greek official statistics] against any efforts to undermine their credibility. This principle is also found in the UN Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics (Principle 4: “The statistical agencies are entitled to comment on erroneous interpretation and misuse of statistics.”) and the European Statistics Code of Practice (Principle 1.7: “The National Statistical Institutes … comment publicly on statistical issues, including criticisms and misuses of statistics as far as considered suitable.”). Finally, observing the European Statistics Code of Practice is required in the EU statistical law (Regulation 223) and the Greek statistical law (Law 3832).