The article in the “ Süddeutsche Zeitung ” (SZ) from September 4, 2020 was entitled “Notes from high society”.

Contrary to what the headline initially suggested, the article set a development in motion that resulted in various criminal charges against high-ranking SPD politicians and occupied a parliamentary investigative committee in Hamburg.

The research of the "SZ" editors threw a spotlight on Olaf Scholz, in September 2020 still Federal Finance Minister and Chancellor candidate of the Social Democrats.

Marcus Young

Editor in Business.

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Contrary to what he claimed at the time, as the first mayor of Hamburg in 2016 and 2017, he met several times with Christian Olearius and Max Warburg, owners of the private bank MM Warburg, which was deeply involved in the cum-ex scandal.

According to Olearius' records, the background to these meetings was tax reclaims by Hamburg's tax office in the millions.

To this day, there is suspicion of political influence by Scholz and the then Finance Senator Peter Tschentscher (SPD).

lawsuit against journalists

But it was not the politicians who put up a fight, but Christian Olearius went to court.

His notes were originally confiscated during a search by detectives commissioned by the Cologne public prosecutor in March 2018.

The prosecutors are investigating Olearius and Max Warburg because of Warburg Bank's cum-ex transactions.

From the evidence room of the State Criminal Police Office in Düsseldorf, the diary got into the hands of journalists via a route that has not yet been clarified.

The banker accused the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" and other media of violating his personal rights because they had illegally used passages from his diaries - and was right in summary proceedings and in the first instance.

Now the 7th Civil Senate at the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court on Tuesday largely rejected an appeal by the "SZ".

This means that the verdict from last year remains largely unchanged: the editors are prohibited from distributing 13 statements from Olearius' diaries.

"According to today's decision, the only exceptions to this are the two text passages that have meanwhile been read out in the parliamentary committee of inquiry and thus made public," said a judicial spokesman.

The Senate only provided a justification on the last pages of the 12-page decision.

Olearius' claim for injunctive relief is based on the fact that the publication violates Section 353d of the Criminal Code (StGB).

As a result of the confiscation by the investigators, the diaries should not have been published,

before they have been discussed in public session.

According to the Senate, this prohibition not only protects the general functioning of the judiciary, but also the person concerned from "premature exposure", so that the violation supports the injunctive relief.

"Outstanding Public Interest"

At the oral hearing in February, Martin Schippan, lawyer for "SZ" referred to the "overriding public interest" in the disclosures in the cum-ex scandal and accused Olearius of wanting to prevent reporting that was negative for him.

"The Süddeutsche Zeitung will appeal against the verdict," said Martin Schippan, legal representative of the "SZ" after the announcement of the decision.

"We consider the verdict to be insufficient and not sufficiently justified."

"Zeit Online" and the NDR magazine "Panorama" also published articles on the meeting between Scholz and the Warburg bankers in the town hall at the beginning of September 2020.

The journalists also referred to "extensive" passages from the diaries from the years 2016 to 2018. At the same time, the "Zeit Online" article makes it clear that much of what Olearius recorded in his diaries could be proven from other sources .

However, that did not protect them from a lawsuit by the Warburg co-owner.

The judicial spokesman said on request that the parallel proceedings were still being negotiated.

If the Senate stays true to its line, Christian Olearius will probably be right again.

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