Rumours that the prime minister's husband is gay originated with the accountant who was assisting the couple at the time of a 2010 tax audit, but the accountant maintains he only did it for the couple's benefit.
Frode Holm said he thought he was making a comment that would be treated confidentiality by tax officials preparing an audit of then-opposition leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne) and her husband, Stephen Kinnock. Holm yesterday expressed his regret that he, in August of 2010, started the rumour by telling Erling Andersen, the director the Copenhagen office of tax authority Skat, and caseworker Inger Sommer Hansen that Kinnock was “bisexual or gay”.
“I admit that I said that, but I never spoke with the couple [Kinnock and Thorning-Schmidt] about it. It was only concerning the meeting and nothing to do with the audit. It was a mistake that I am still quite uneasy about today,” Holm told Berlingske newspaper.
Holm said he purposely made up the rumour because Andersen was adamant that both Kinnock and Thorning-Schmidt should attend a meeting with Skat to discuss whether Kinnock, who worked in Switzerland and lived in Denmark at the time, owed taxes in Denmark.
If it had been true that Kinnock was engaged in extramartial affairs outside of Denmark, it would have been more difficult for Skat to argue that he owed Danish taxes, since both his job and a significant part of his personal life would have been in Switzerland.
“I wanted Erling Andersen to stop demanding that she [Thorning-Schmidt] show up with her husband. I had received a notice from Helle that she would not be attending the meeting,” Holm told Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
Holm indicated that while he was obliged to make Andersen understand that Thorning-Schmidt would not be coming, he still needed to maintain a good rapport with him because he would be making the decision in Kinnock’s tax case.
“It was a ploy to get her out of a meeting she clearly didn’t want to attend, and it was successful in that respect,” Holm said.
Holm also contended that he had counted on Andersen to respect his duty of confidentiality. But while Kinnock’s case was closed a week after the meeting, rumours about Kinnock’s sexuality continued to thrive in the hallways of Skat.
Andersen told department head Peter Loft who in turn informed the tax minister at the time, Troels Lund Poulsen (Venstre). Poulsen told his spin-doctor Peter Arnfeldt and the rumour quickly found its way on to the front pages of the nation’s newspapers.
But according to Thomas Rønfeldt, who teaches law at Aalborg University, It wasn’t necessary for Holm to go to the lengths he did to prevent Thorning-Schmidt from attending the tax meeting.
“Tax payers are free to decide whether or not they wish to attend a meeting with Skat,” Rønfeldt told Jyllands-Posten. “The only thing you risk by not showing is that Skat may make its decision based on incomplete information.”
Erling Hansen, Inger Sommer Hansen and Thorning-Schmidt have all declined to comment, though Thorning-Schmidt this August confronted the rumour of her husband's sexual preference head on by bringing it up before it was made public.