German minister ridiculed over ‘Willygate’ dispute

Social Democrat Andy Grote’s complaint about offensive tweet triggered police raid

Andy Grote
Andy Grote
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A German minister is facing mounting criticism after complaining to police about a tweet in which he was called a “willy”.

Andy Grote, the interior minister for the city of Hamburg, filed a legal complaint earlier this year over the tweet, which said “du bist so 1 pimmel” (“You are such a willy”).

The complaint by Grote, a member of the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), sparked a police investigation that culminated in officers conducting a “dawn raid” on the Twitter user’s flat “to confiscate the device he used to write it”, The Times reported.

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The row - dubbed “Pimmelgate”, meaning “Willygate” - began in May when Grote called people “ignorant” and “daft” for going out partying in Hamburg despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

Critics pointed out that the previous summer, Grote had broken Covid rules when he celebrated his reappointment as minister in a Hamburg bar with 30 guests.

Amid the fallout of his police complaint over the tweet, tabloid Bild said that “there must be a crackdown on hate speech and routine threats on social media”.

But the newspaper questioned the decision to set “police officers on harmless tweeters while women struggle to defend themselves against the vilest online rape threats on a massive scale”.

The Washington Post added that although incitement and defamation laws are strict in Germany, “many saw the police raid as an overreach”.

Stickers declaring “Andy, du bist so 1 pimmel” subsequently appeared around the left-wing St Pauli district of Hamburg. And last Saturday, “a large mural with the offending slogan appeared on the facade of the Rote Flora, an anarchic cultural centre”, according to The Times.

“The police painted over the mural,” said the paper, “but the slogan quickly reappeared and police painted over it again.”

Grote has told prosecutors that he will not take any further legal action in relation to the matter. But conservatives in Hamburg’s parliament have called for him to resign.

Dennis Gladiator, domestic affairs spokesperson for the Christian Democrats, said: “The most recent events show he can no longer tell people to stick to the rules without making himself a laughing stock.”

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