PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt (S) told a parliamentary investigative committee today that she has done nothing wrong in the case involving former Justice Minister Morten Bødskov’s involvement in the PET spying case that cost him his job.
Thorning-Schmidt was grilled about what she knew about emails from November 19 containing drafts of a press release that Bødskov released later that day giving his explanation for why PET pried into the calendar of MP Pia Kjærsgaard (DF) in order to prevent her from attending a trip to Christiania.
Thorning-Schmidt said that she knew of differences in the drafts “a few hours” before it was released.
“I will begin by fully rejecting the baseless accusations that I sat on the information for several weeks,” a defiant Thorning-Schmidt said. “Nothing was concealed or withheld.”
Email exchanges released earlier this week revealed that the PM’s permanent secretary, Christian Kettel Thomsen, was aware of Bødskov’s role in the PET spying at least three weeks before Bødskov admitted that he lied to parliament on December 10.
In the early drafts of the press release, Bødskov apologised for misleading parliament on the real reason the trip was cancelled.
“In retrospect, I regret that I conveyed to the legal affairs committee an inaccurate picture of the actual reason the visit could not take place at the appropriate time,” Bødskov is quoted as saying in the draft.
The quote was not in the final version of the release sent out on November 19.
"An explanation designed for the occasion"
Although the PM has said that she read the original draft and said that the apology should be included, it was missing from the final version that was released to the press.
Søren Pind (V) said at the hearing that he found “very strange” that something specifically requested by the prime minister would be left out.
"It sounds like an explanation designed for the occasion,” Pind said to the PM.
The PM spoke specifically about the two lies at the centre of the case that cost Bødskov his job. Bødskov said that intelligence gathered by the domestic intelligence agency PET indicated that there could be disturbances in the freetown if the MPs, particularly Kjærsgaard, made a planned visit.
He claimed the intelligence was so sensitive that he could not share it with the committee, leading him to the second lie – saying that the trip had to be cancelled because the-then chief of Copenhagen Police, Johan Reimann, couldn’t attend on the scheduled date.
Thorning-Schmidt said that she had no knowledge that either statement was a lie until hours before the public did.
“There is no legal basis to think that I was negligent in my duties,” said Thorning-Schmidt. She said that there was nothing in any draft of the emails that she read that indicated that the statements about Reimann were lies.