|The vanity of the bonfire|
In 2009, there was a fire at the Commission HQ, we investigated
As eurocrats scuttled away from the flames, apocalyptic preachers roamed around Schuman quoting the more excitable passages from the Book of Revelations but the emergency services were feeling the pressure, as one senior policeman said, off the record, "We've got to hush this up, there's a lot at stake". Despite press releases trying to minimise the incident, others were beginning secret enquiries. The police source explained, "We've got suspects and there is already a lot of evidence gathering going on, but, " he tapped his nose knowingly, "there isn't any prospect of a court case, if you know what I mean".
A highly confidential list of suspects was shown to New Europe and we can exclusively reveal the lines of inquiry and why the authorities are suspicious:
Nigel Farage - An obvious suspect, but he appeared on UK TV saying he had an alibi. The CCTV cameras at the Gare du Midi are being examined as there may be a possibility that Farage lit the fire and quickly caught the Eurostar to give himself an alibi.
Robert Kilroy-Silk - Witnesses speak of a man in the inferno who appeared to be horribly burned. Police suspect this could have been the notoriously orange skinned ex-TV presenter. Also, his claim on election of "destroying the European Union" makes him a suspect. "We think he knew his career was over and he wanted to go out on a bang".
Guy Verhofstat - the ex Belgian PM was known to be angry by his failure to become Commission President and "may have acted out of a jealous rage".
Günter Verheugen - Long discussed making a bonfire of regulations. "We think this may have been what he was doing and it all went wrong, directives are highly flammable". He, allegedly, was spotted running naked through the corridors shortly after the fire began. A spokesman said "This in not unusual, he does that every now and then".
INTEL - There is a theory that they might have "sent the boys round" after being fined by the Commission recently. "The timing is suspicious".
Jöse Manuel Barroso - After reportedly losing support of some socialist parties, he may have become disillusioned. According to insiders, he has a bust of Nero in his office that he gazes at longingly. However his security team deny this, commenting on his departure from the burning building, "We've never seen him move so fast. In fact, we've rarely seen him move".
RELEX - Unverified reports suggest that Berlaymont was the target of a storm of blazing arrows, fired from the Charlemagne building's roof. "RELEX have been envious of the bigger building, especially as it's harder to see through the windows, where Charlemagne is more open and it's easier for people to see us sleeping at our desks or find out exactly long our lunches are. We're sick and tired of people in the LEX building waving at us and holding rude notices to us at the windows." said a source in RELEX
Lord Mandelson - It seems that after the UK MP's expenses storm a tabloid journalist broke into the strongrooms containing the ex-Commissioner's expenses claims. The suspicion is that the hack was so outraged he spontaneously combusted, thus starting the fire. Mandelson expressed "deep, heartfelt sorrow" that his expenses had been destroyed. He then asked if he could re-submit them.
Although nobody was hurt, there will be serious consequences. The biggest casualty was the Lisbon Treaty, which was burned beyond recognition. An official explained, "We were using it to prop open a door, but it has been destroyed. This means that every member state will have to sign it again, once we get a new one printed. This could cause problems".
The Commission is to be closed for six months as the entire staff have been signed off sick by doctors. Compensation claims are expected to reach over 3 billion euros as employees claim for trauma, inhalation of second hand smoke and tinnitus caused by "too loud" fire alarms. In brighter news, the Bada Bing Lap dancing club has offered alternative employment to some stagieres. There has been an appeal launched to refurbish the Commission headquarters, so far Microsoft has offered "extensive support" and claim that their investigations reveal that one of the press had a laptop running Linux and this was the probable cause of the fire.
One heroic moment during the crisis was that of an unknown functionary, in a desperate attempt to halt the blaze, urinated on a pile of burning Commission Directives, before being overcome by the smoke. This heroism is planned to be commemorated in a 10 metre high statue of this selfless act, to be mounted on the Commission roof, overlooking Schuman roundabout. It's going to be called the Berlaymont Pis.