Danish police are probing allegations that the popular Danish gossip magazine Se og Hør snooped on the credit card transactions of the Danish Royal Family and various celebrities.
Police are investigating claims that an employee at the credit card IT service Nets passed on details about the credit card transactions of the beautiful people to Se og Hør, which then published stories based on the information.
The investigation follows allegations in a book by journalist Ken B Rasmussen that reporters used information culled from the informant to track the whereabouts of Danish royals and celebrities between 2008 and 2012. The result has been a Danish media feeding frenzy of unprecedented proportions.
Pål Thore Krosby, the head of the Alle Media company that publishes the magazine, said he has started an internal investigation into the affair, which has been compared to the telephone hacking scandal at the former British tabloid News of the World, where employees were accused of engaging in phone hacking, police bribery and exercising improper influence in the pursuit of publishing stories, resulting in a public outcry against News Corporation owner Rupert Murdoch and, ultimately, the closing down of the newspaper.
Former editor under scrutiny
Henrik Qvortrup, who was the editor of Se og Hør when the snooping started, has become the lightening rod for the controversy and has stepped down from his current job as a political commentator for TV2.
“It is natural that I have become the subject of considerable media attention,” Qvortrup said in a statement. “I cannot deny that the person at the centre of this story was paid for work done during my tenure.”
Qvortrup said that it was his understanding that the source provided accurate information to reporters, but denied that he knew that the information was illegally obtained.
Se og Hør’s current chief editor Niels Pinborg denied having any knowledge about systematic surveillance.
Honeymoons and strip clubs
Information allegedly based on the illegally purloined credit card information includes photos of Prince Joachim and Princess Marie’s 2008 secret honeymoon in Canada and numbers confirming Prince Henrik's wild shopping sprees in Thailand. Restaurant visits and other spending by Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary were also tracked. Queen Margrethe appears to have been spared because she doesn’t use a credit card.
Lesser lights like former MP Morten Helveg Petersen and TV presenter Line Baun Danielsen also had their private business revealed via credit card statements. Se and Hør reported on the couple’s 2008 tryst and romantic getaways. Petersen has since reported the magazine to the police.
Comic Casper Christensen’s credit card activity revealed that he was hanging out at a LA strip club while his then girlfriend was tucked safely away in Sweden.
The activities of other famous and infamous Danes like Janni Spies, Lars Løkke Rasmussen and Sydney Lee were also tracked by the source.
Rasmussen’s book, ‘Livet, det forbandede’ (Life, the damned), was published by Bokompaniet, which is owned by well-known Danish mudslinger Johnny Staunton, whose one-man publishing house specialises in releasing provocative books about famous Danes.
Staunton said that he has no documentation to back up the claims made in Rasmussen’s book, which he told the media was a “novelisation, based on both fact and fiction”.
Staunton has previously denied that he consciously publishes controversial books.
“I've been called a cold and cynical publisher that is only out to make money,” Staunton told the tabloid BT. “Of course I make money. So does a baker, and no-one calls him a cynic.”