The president of Germany's largest motorists' club, the ADAC, has resigned. Peter Meyer said in a statement that he no longer wanted "to be held solely responsible" for a string of "mistakes and manipulations."
The ADAC issued a statement from its president Peter Meyer on Monday, in which Meyer said he was quitting his post with immediate effect.
"I no longer wish to be held solely responsible for mistakes and manipulations made by full-time executives, who are tasked with the running of day-to-day business according to the ADAC's structure," Meyer said.
Meyer said he still supported the ADAC's recently-announced ten-point plan for reform following a string of media allegations, saying the organization would work to win back consumer trust.
Only on Sunday had the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAZ) newspaper quoted Meyer as saying that "in my view, running away is the wrong signal."
The manipulation of a vote on Germany's "favorite car" for 2013 and revelations that ADAC functionaries had used emergency rescue helicopters for other purposes on around 30 occasions had prompted the motorists' group to commission an independent report on its problems. Business consultancy Deloitte submitted its findings directly to the ADAC.
ADAC has admitted to inflating the numbers of its favorite car poll, the "Yellow Angel" award, named after the ADAC's prime color, to suggest that considerably more of its members had participated in the vote. Head of communications Peter Ramstetter, who was in charge of the ADAC magazine that published the poll, resigned on January 19.
The group is also alleged to have manipulated the "Yellow Angel" rankings to ensure that all three of Germany's top carmakers - Volkswagen, Mercedes and BMW - were represented in the top five. Meyer had previously said that while he was not certain, he considered it possible that the accusation could be true.
On Monday, the three top carmakers said they were returning their "Yellow Angel" awards as a result of the findings in Deloitte's audit. Volkswagen said it was returning the award won for its Golf model at the end of January. Daimler, which owns Mercedes, said it would return all "Yellow Angels" won in previous years.
'Burden' on Meyer's family
The ADAC said on Monday that the "attacks and defamations" of recent days in the German press targeting Meyer "did not just burden the ADAC, but also [Meyer's] family."
In response to the intense domestic media focus, the club has also called its first extraordinary general meeting since 1948 in order to discuss the problems and possible reforms.
By number of members, with around 19 million, the ADAC is the second-largest motorists' club in the world after AAA in the US.
msh/ipj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)