Former US ambassador Gutman thanks Belgian leaders


Howard Gutman, the popular US ambassador to Belgium, spoke publicly on a Flemish TV show about his last few weeks in office, when he was forced to deny allegations of sexual misconduct

Investigation turns up nothing

Howard Gutman, the former US ambassador to Belgium, spoke publicly last week in the Flemish TV talk show Reyers laat about his final weeks in Belgium last summer, which saw him leave the country in a firestorm of controversy. Gutman (pictured) specifically thanked Belgian leaders for supporting him at the time.

A member of staff in the US state department claimed that statements about Gutman soliciting prostitutes and been involved in drug deals in Brussels’ Warande Park during his term had been removed from a report. The US ambassador’s residence is across the street from the park.

Gutman vehemently denied the allegations, and an ensuring investigation found no evidence of misconduct. “When it hit the Belgian press, it was no fun to be me,” he said on Reyers laat. “The park is under 24/7 surveillance to protect the residence of the US ambassador, so no one could do anything without everyone knowing about it.”

Gutman described how he had been supported by Belgian colleagues during the ordeal, mentioning federal defence minister Pieter De Crem, EU Council president Herman Van Rompuy and Princess Astrid.

He was particularly grateful, he said, to Flemish minister-president Peeters, who supported him at a business event just hours after the allegations emerged. “Kris Peeters gave me a big hug,” Gutman said. “I will never forget that.”