Germany's beleaguered defence minister came under fresh fire yesterday from opposition allegations that he lied about ordering an army jet to fly him to Majorca to see his girlfriend. Rudolf Scharping, whose very public infatuation with his wife-to-be has embarrassed the government and exposed him to criticism that he is neglecting his job, denied the allegations. But speculation that he may resign persisted as Wolfgang Clement, a deputy chairman of Scharping's own Social Democrat party, attacked the minister, telling Stern magazine: “We're all saying that at the moment he has a screw loose.” Clement later retracted the comment, saying he had spoken to Scharping since he gave the interview and that the minister had clarified the matter. Scharping said he used the jet to fly back to Majorca last week only because it was flying there anyway -- to take Transport Minister Kurt Bodewig and Interior Minister Otto Schily back to their holiday resorts.

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