Dutch justice minister resigns amid drug trafficker payment row

Dutch Justice Minister Ard van der Steur meets the press in The Hague (26 Jan) Image copyright Bart Maat
Image caption Mr Van de Steur's resignation puts pressure on the Dutch government

Dutch Justice Minister Ard van der Steur has resigned in a row over a 2001 compensation payment to a convicted drug trafficker.

His departure is regarded as a blow to the government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

His centre-right Liberal Party (VVD) is trailing in opinion polls ahead of a general election in March.

Mr van de Steur is the third member of Mr Rutte's government to resign over the scandal.

Former Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten and his junior minister, Fred Teeven, resigned in 2015 after misleading parliament over the 2001 deal.

The affair revolves around a deal prosecutors reached with a drug trafficker, Cees Helman, worth €2m (£1.7m; $2.1m).

Mr van de Steur has been criticised for his role in answers provided to parliament over the issue.

He has denied advising certain information be withheld.

PM Rutte has also come under fire from opposition politicians.

The Freedom Party, led by anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders, is leading public opinion polls.

More on this story