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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 July, 2004, 17:51 GMT 18:51 UK
Lubbers cleared of UN sex claim
Ruud Lubbers
Lubbers denied he had been involved in any improper behaviour
One of the UN's most senior figures has been cleared of sexual harassment by Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Mr Annan said a complaint against High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers could not be sustained.

But he made clear his "concerns" about the way the former Dutch premier handled the incident.

Mr Lubbers says an American woman on his staff misconstrued a "friendly gesture" he made on leaving a meeting towards the end of 2003.

The 65-year-old Dutchman has been under investigation since early May.

He strongly denied any wrongdoing towards the 51-year-old member of staff.

'Strong concerns'

The New York Times said the claim had been made by an American woman who had worked for the UNHCR for many years.

The paper also reported that Mr Lubbers later wrote to her at home asking her to drop the complaint.

Mr Annan found that the complaint against Mr Lubbers "cannot be sustained by the evidence," UN associate spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

However, Mr Annan said in a letter to staff of the Office of the UN High Commission for Refugees that he had written to Mr Lubbers "conveying in the strongest terms my concerns about the incident which gave rise to the complaint."

The secretary-general said the letter also expressed concern "about subsequent events during the investigation, some of which may have been construed as likely to influence the course of the investigation."

Mr Annan's spokesman said the matter was now "considered closed" and that efforts were being made to "rebuild trust and confidence" among UNHCR staff.

The BBC's Susannah Price
"While Mr Annan considers the case closed he is clearly concerned by Mr Lubbers conduct"


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