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Vincent Van Quickenborne: Belgian Justice Minister Apologises for ‘Pipigate’ Scandal

Belgium’s justice minister has appeared before parliament after guests at his birthday party were caught on CCTV urinating on an empty police van.

Vincent Van Quickenborne insisted he had not known what they did but apologised for the ensuing scandal, nicknamed “Pipigate” by local media.

He also denied that the footage showed him mocking the incident by laughing with someone and pretending to urinate.

This was, he claimed, evidence of him performing “air guitar”, nothing else.

Opposition politicians and police unions have expressed anger over the incident since reports first surfaced in the days after Mr Van Quickenborne’s 50th birthday celebrations on 14 August.

According to police surveillance footage, three guests left the party late in the evening and relieved themselves against a parked police vehicle.

The van is thought to belong to the officers assigned to Mr Van Quickenborne’s protection detail.

Some Belgian media reports, citing other footage, suggested the minister then came out of his home, laughing with someone and mimicking a man urinating while looking at his phone.

Mr Van Quickenborne denied this account and went on to release his own domestic security camera, which he claimed showed him escorting a friend out of his home in Kortrijk – hours after the accused had left.

He told parliament he was not looking at video, or images, of the incident – or anything else – at the time.

Instead, he claimed he took out his phone to take a selfie with a friend. He showed that image to Belgian news outlet VRT as part of the campaign to clear his name.

As for whether he was mimicking someone urinating, Mr Van Quickenborne – widely known as “Quickie” in Belgium – said he was in fact performing an “air guitar solo”.

“I hate to admit it,” he is quoted by Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad as telling the Justice Committee of the Belgian parliament on Thursday. “I specialise in that, I am a metalhead.”

He also addressed the seriousness of the issue, telling parliament: “I am ashamed that people I invited [to] my house peed against a police van… it is disgusting, especially considering why the van is there.”

Mr Van Quickenborne and his family have been under police protection following a failed attempt to kidnap him last year.

An investigation has been launched by the public prosecutor’s office in the city of Kortrijk.

Mr Van Quickenborne, of the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats party, told the committee he had helped the investigation by asking those accused to come forward.

Opposition politicians condemned his behaviour and questioned his version of events.

Christoph D’Haese, the mayor of Aalst, East Flanders, was quoted by local media as telling Mr Van Quickenborne he had “ridiculed” police and showed a “lack of respect”.

Last month, the NSPV police union released a scathing statement in which it said he was “unworthy of [being] a minister of justice”.

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander de Croo, who was also at the birthday party, has said he did not see anything.

Source: British Broadcasting Corporation