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MEP accused of harassment apologises

A Finnish member of the European Parliament accused of sexual harassment has said he is sorry for offending anyone -- but continues to deny any impropriety.

Mitro Repo
Mitro Repo Image: YLE

On Thursday Mitro Repo said he apologised to anyone whom he had unintentionally caused distress or who felt offended. However he said that he did not recognise the behaviour described by unnamed people at the European Parliament. The allegations were broadcast on YLE TV's current affairs programme A-studio on Wednesday evening.

The programme's reporters interviewed 20 Finnish European Parliament officials, lobbyists and journalists specialising in EU affairs regarding the 14 Finnish MEPs' performance in the first two years of this four-year legislative term. Repo received the lowest rating. Many interviewees reported that Repo has told dirty jokes and behaved in an unseemly manner toward women, including alleged incidences of groping or inappropriate physical contact.

"I have difficulty recognising myself in these allegations or quotations. I did not intend to offend or belittle anyone through my actions or choice of words," Repo said in a statement on his website.

He promised to learn from the experience.

No stranger to controversy

Repo, a 53-year-old Orthodox pastor, author and TV personality, was elected to the European Parliament in 2009 as an independent on the Social Democratic Party ticket. He sits with the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament.

Before his election, Repo had a protracted public dispute with the leadership of Finland's state-supported Greek Orthodox Church. Critical of his media appearances and political aspirations, it banned him from serving as a priest or wearing clerical attire during his campaign and time in the European Parliament.

Earlier on Thursday, SDP Party Secretary Mikael Jungner told YLE that he took Repo at his word when he denied the charges. He added that since Repo is not a member of the SDP, the party did not plan to take any measures against him at that point.

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