Name of Lázár’s London hotel has to be disclosed, court rules


The Prime Minister’s Office has to disclose where János Lázár stayed on a trip to England in November 2012, which drew attention because of high hotel bills, a court ruled on Thursday. The ruling is not legally binding yet.

Lázár, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office, had three trips that generated unusually high hotel bills. In the case of the other two visits – to Milan and Zurich – a legally binding ruling forces the government to reveal the names of the hotels. The execution of this verdict, however, is delayed by a legal review initiated by Lázár’s legal team.

In case of the England trip the government’s legal representative argued that its details had been classified. During the trial the judge was given access to the confidential document and concluded that the details of Lázár’s meetings are indeed classified information. The judge also said, however, that the classified document does not include any information about the hotel where Lázár stayed, and therefore that detail does not enjoy any protection.

The government’s lawyer also argued that disclosure of the hotel’s name will make it possible to identify the city where Lázár’s meetings took place. This information is included in the classified document. This argument was weakened, however, by Mr. Lázár himself. It was him who revealed it in an interview last year that his meetings took place in London.

The lawsuit was launched by András Pethő, a reporter of Direkt36, with the legal assistance of Transparency International. Pethő is being represented in court by Dániel Karsai, a lawyer.

Lázár and one of his aides spent two nights in London in November 2012, spending nearly 3 thousand euros on accomodation. The Prime Minister’s Office said that they are unable to tell how much Lázár’s room cost, due to accounting reasons.

The Prime Minister’s Office is likely to appeal the decision on the London trip. Although they have lost every legal battle so far, Lázár has made it clear that he does not want to disclose the hotel names. “The court cannot verify whether what I say is true, because I can say that I do not remember, or I can say something that is not true about with whom I was in the hotel”, said Lázár earlier on a press conference, according to Index.

  • András Pethő

    András is a co-founder, editor and executive director of Direkt36. Previously, he was a senior editor for leading Hungarian news site Origo before it had been transformed into the government’s propaganda outlet. He also worked for the BBC World Service in London and was a reporter at the investigative unit of The Washington Post. He has contributed to several international reporting projects, including The Panama Papers. He twice won the Soma Prize, the prestigious annual award dedicated to investigative journalism in Hungary. He was a World Press Institute fellow in 2008, a Humphrey fellow at the University of Maryland in 2012/13, and a Nieman fellow at Harvard University in 2019/20. András has taught journalism courses at Hungarian universities.