María Dolores de Cospedal declared in June 2019 as a defendant in the National High Court in the framework of the 'kitchen operation'. Both the judge, the prosecutor, as well as his own lawyer asked him about the Popular Party's reaction to the revelations of the papers of its former treasurer, Luis Bárcenas, six years earlier. "The interest of the party is that the truth be known and responsibilities be purged, said the former general secretary of the PP. But the comparison between her judicial statement and the recordings revealed by El Pais they reveal that there were more things that he did not tell the judge of the case. For example, that he asked José Manuel Villarejo to stop the spread of "the little book" where Bárcenas wrote down decades of opaque accounting in Genoa 13.
The former Minister of Defense appeared as a defendant in the Kitchen case when the judge still suspected that both she and her husband, businessman Ignacio López del Hierro, could have something to do with the operation: the capture of the driver of Luis Bárcenas' wife and his wife, Rosalía Iglesias, to try to steal compromising recordings and documentation that the former treasurer kept and in which the Prime Minister himself, Mariano Rajoy, supposedly appeared. She was accused and therefore had no obligation to tell the truth.
Manuel Morocho was the policeman in charge of analyzing box B of the Popular Party in 2013, when El País published the Bárcenas papers. An inspector around whom a part of the Kitchen operation also revolves: testified last year and recounted how he was ordered "not to put any names of political leaders in the body of the report." "Specifically, the name of Mariano Rajoy was expressed to me," he said. The recordings now broadcast by El País reveal that this indication was known to Cospedal through Villarejo.
It was in April 2013 when the two spoke by phone about that report, which was going to reach the judge in the Gürtel case in the following days. She acknowledged that she had received a call from the Home Secretary and that he had assured her that she "would have a day to see it" before it was handed over. Villarejo explains that some of his efforts to supposedly eliminate the most compromised names from the report have been unsuccessful but that he and Commissioner José Luis Olivera have managed to reach Morocho himself.
"We have convinced him to remove the most important and such, but we cannot be like this every day," Villarejo tells Cospedal, to which she replies: "I already know." Later, the policeman talks about the possibility of "having promoted two of this guy's group, who are the ones who make all the reports." Six years later, however, Cospedal stated before the judge in the Kitchen case that at that time she did not know who Morocho was.
Judge: "Did you know who Mr. Morocho was and who he is?"
Cospedal: "Today I know who Mr. Morocho is, on the dates that his honor spoke to me, I did not know who this person was."
Judge: "At no time do you talk about him with any of the people I've mentioned so far?"
Cospedal: "No, never. I learned that later."
The truth is that the conversations revealed by El País this week reveal that already in April 2013 María Dolores de Cospedal was aware of who Inspector Morocho was and that the key report for the investigation of Box B of the match. She also said she knew nothing about a possible transfer to Lisbon offered to the inspector to get him off his back and that he was not explicitly mentioned in the conversation with Villarejo.
According to the version offered to the judge, she learned that this report was being prepared "by a journalist" who informed her that her husband appeared in Bárcenas' papers and Morocho's report. She then defended that her husband did not work for the company that, according to her papers, she represented in that donation. Neither the judge nor any of the parties asked her for more details about how she obtained the information she was talking about with Villarejo in April 2013.
One of the prosecutors in the case also asked Cospedal in the second half of the interrogation if there was a strategy of the Popular Party to protect Bárcenas, or later to "attack the former treasurer out of fear." She emphatically denied it. "My interest has always been that the truth be known, that responsibilities be purged," she said. "My interest has always been that the truth be known, I had no interest in anything else."
The conversations with Villarejo took place, according to El País, between January and April 2013. A few months before she herself testify as a witness before Judge Pablo Ruz, who at that time was investigating the opaque accounts of the Popular Party.
That interest in "knowing the truth" reflected by the former general secretary of the Popular Party before the judge in 2019 contrasts with the request he made to Villarejo by phone six years earlier: "That's why I'm calling you... the little notebook... It would be better to be able to stop it." That "little book", the opaque accounting of the PP collected by Bárcenas for years, was published a few days later by the newspaper El País.
Throughout her appearance before the judge in the Kitchen case, María Dolores de Cospedal gave her version of why she had been interested in maintaining sporadic contact with Villarejo starting in 2009: because of the good relationship she had with journalists, to find out about where the leaks about the mayor of Valencia, Rita Barberá, came from, and to find out if the Ministry of the Interior was spying on the Popular Party from a building near Génova street in Madrid.
In those first contacts of 2009, the year in which the Gürtel operation broke out within her party, she assured the judge that they were talking about "the news that appeared in the press related to the Popular Party, the attacks in the press that I suffered or my husband and to see if he could find out where those attacks came from," she explained. He also took weight away from the confidences that the former commissioner transmitted: "He spoke with great profusion about all kinds of things but almost everything, I do not remember that he gave me any news that I did not know. They were topics that appeared in the press and that he profusely adorned " .
As Cospedal explained to the judge of the kitchen caseTherefore, Villarejo adorned his stories and never told him anything that had not already been published by the media. "Anticipate nothing, all I had that I remember were things that had appeared in the media," he told the judge after explicitly denying having made any kind of assignment to Villarejo.