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Monday, 28 January, 2002, 11:47 GMT
Schroeder hits back over hair-dye heresy
Gerhard Schroeder
Gerhard Schroeder: Hopes to quash speculation
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has taken time out from affairs of state to clarify an all important detail - the colour of his hair.

We hope that this matter and the whole subject is once and for all off the agenda

Lawyer Michael Nesselhauf
"The federal chancellor's temples/hair are not dyed," read a statement sent to the DDP news agency by Mr Schroeder's lawyers.

And those who choose to say otherwise risk an injunction.

"Anyone who insinuates that I dye my hair insinuates that I always lie," Mr Schroeder is reported to have said.

His wrath has been provoked by a statement by image consultant Sabine Schwind von Egelstein, carried by the agency.

The chancellor, she suggested, would be much more persuasive "if he did not colour his greying temples".

"We were surprised by the fuss, as the chancellor's hairstyle has often been reported on in the past," said DDP editor-in-chief Bernd von Jutrczenka.

Election issue

But that, it appears, is exactly why Mr Schroeder's lawyers intervened.

Edmund Stoiber
The grey challenger: 60-year-old Edmund Stoiber
"We hope that this matter and the whole subject is once and for all off the agenda," said lawyer Michael Nesselhauf.

Mr Schroeder's follicles were a matter of great speculation during the 1998 election.

Some media suggested that the Social Democrat challenger to Helmut Kohl had achieved a remarkably dark-brown tone, compared to the reddish colour he had sported in his former role as premier of Lower-Saxony.

As Germany prepares to go to the polls once more in September, Mr Schroeder apparently hopes that the threat of legal action will prevent further gossip.

The sleekly groomed 57-year-old will face the Bavarian conservative Edmund Stoiber who, at 60, makes no attempt to conceal his grey hair and baldness.

The BBC's Max Flint
"Many people still find the use of hair dye embarrassing to admit to"
See also:

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Germany's creaking cabinet
07 May 01 | Europe
Schroeder's European vision
06 Nov 01 | Europe
Germany agrees Afghanistan force
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