CPH Post


PM's reprimand casts new light on freedom of information act

Scandal would not have been uncovered if it weren't for the voluntary release of information

Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt (S) was given an official reprimand for staying quiet about her lying justice minister (Photo: Scanpix)

January 21, 2014

by PS

The freedom of information act, offentlighedsloven, is facing renewed criticism following the recent scandal that cost PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt (S) an official reprimand.

The PM’s involvement in the 'Christiania Case' scandal only came to light because an email correspondence between the Justice Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office was handed over to parliament’s legal committee.

The emails reveal that the Prime Minister’s Office had known for some time that the former justice minister, Morten Bødskov (S), had lied to parliament about why a trip to Christiania had to be cancelled, which ultimately led to his departure.

READ MORE: PM’s nose grows with reprimand

Less freedom
Bødskov's lie itself would also never have been publicly known if agents working for the domestic intelligence agency PET had also not leaked information to the press.

The new freedom of information act came into effect on January 1, and prevents correspondence between ministries from being released to the public through freedom of information requests.

All parties except Enhedslisten, Dansk Folkeparti (DF) and Liberal Alliance – parties that traditionally do not hold ministerial positions – voted in favour of the law.

READ MORE: Demonstration against freedom of information act draws hundreds

Review the law
“With regard to the papers that Helle Thorning has presented, we can see the openness has not increased [with the new freedom of information act],” Enhedslisten’s legal spokesperson Pernille Skipper told DR Nyheder.

DF also question whether the case would have come to light by requesting government documents, and have called for the law to be reviewed before 2017, as is planned.

“The problem is that there was always a majority who didn’t agree with our view, but we can only hope that this case makes the majority reconsider, and that the government decides to pursue a more open freedom of information act,” DF's legal spokesperson, Peter Skaarup, told DR Nyheder.

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