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No 'nose' for PM after all

Disagreement over language of Helle Thorning-Schmidt's reprimand leads to no reprimand at all

Helle Thorning-Schmidt can keep her regular nose (Photo: Scanpix)

January 24, 2014

by Justin Cremer

After spending a week discussing an official reprimand for PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt (S), disagreement over the reprimand’s text now means the PM will get off unscathed. 

Left-wing party Enhedslisten (EL) drafted the reprimand but could not get the opposition parties to agree to its language. After saying that its draft was not up for debate, EL gave the opposition parties until noon today to accept the reprimand as written or let Thorning-Schmidt get off with no reprimand at all. 

In short, it was EL’s ‘nose’ or no nose and the opposition parties chose the latter. 

READ MORE: PM's nose grows with reprimand

A week spent discussing the PM's nose
The parties agreed last week on Friday to give the PM a reprimand, called a ‘næse’ (the Danish word for ‘nose’), for her role in the 'Christiania Case', a political scandal that has also cost the jobs of her justice minister and the head of the domestic intelligence agency PET

The prime minister faced a parliamentary hearing last Friday regarding an admission from Morten Bødskov, her former justice minister, that he lied to parliament. Documents came forward last week that revealed that the PM's office and the Justice Ministry had an email correspondence about the contents of a press release Bødskov sent on November 19. On one of the drafts, Bødskov offered a concession that he gave "an inaccurate picture" to parliaments legal committee about the real reason a planned visit by the same committee to the freetown of Christiania was cancelled. 

READ MORE: Defiant PM: "Nothing was concealed"

Although EL and the opposition parties were in agreement that Thorning-Schmidt should be reprimanded, EL’s Pernille Skipper said that the opposition parties were trying to make the reprimand go further than her party was comfortable with.  

A particular point of contention was whether or not the reprimand’s language should include reference to Christian Kettel Thomsen, the PM's permanent secretary. Email exchanges that came to light last week revealed that Kettel 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.

While EL wants the criticism of Thomsen included, the other parties did not. 

READ MORE: PM admits seeing different versions of 'Christiania Case' explanation 

"Word games"
“We don’t want to play word games or attempt to drag the case out because the right side of the parliamentary aisle has an interest in dragging it out and blowing it up to a size that is bigger than what it deserves,” Skipper told Politken newspaper. 

Tom Behnke, an MP for Konservative, countered that Thorning-Schmidt still hasn’t answered written questions posed to her ahead of last week’s hearing and repeatedly avoided questions during the hearing itself. 

“We need answers to the questions out there because the PM so brilliantly answered the same thing over and over regardless of what question was asked at the hearing,” Behnke told Politiken. “It could turn out that what Enhedslisten wrote in the reprimand is wrong.”

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