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JUDICIAL SCANDAL

Embattled court chief justice has worked for PP as legal advisor for past 20 years

Judge Francisco Pérez de los Cobos gave advice to now-Deputy Speaker Celia Villalobos

María Fabra

The chief justice of the Constitutional Court, who has come under fire after acknowledging that he had been a card-carrying member of the ruling Popular Party (PP), has also worked as a legal advisor to the conservative party for about 20 years.

Justice Francisco Pérez de los Cobos acted as a legal advisor to now-Deputy Speaker Celia Villalobos, when she headed up the congressional labor committee from 1989 to 1993. It was Villalobos who was the most vocal in support of Pérez de Cobos last week when deputies were debating whether to call the judge to appear before Congress to offer an explanation about his party affiliation.

After EL PAÍS revealed the chief justice was a PP member, he acknowledged that he had paid part membership dues but had not done so since 2011.

Villalobos on Sunday vehemently denied that she relied on Pérez de los Cobos for any legal advice when she was on the commission.

“He has never advised the party or collected any payment,” she said.

But Antonio Baylos, a professor of labor law at the University of Castilla-La Mancha, recalled that when deputies were drafting the Strike Law in 1992 the PP told him that “the advisor who I needed to get in contact with was Pérez de los Cobos because they didn’t have a suitable deputy for a technical and political debate” about the law. “I recalled that because it surprised me,” he said.

Pérez de los Cobos has also contributed at least eight works to the Foundation for Social Studies and Analysis (FAES), a conservative think-tank headed by former Prime Minister José María Aznar.

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