The Danish political world was rocked this morning when PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Socialdemokraterne) took a preemptive strike against rumours that her husband, Stephen Kinnock, is homosexual.
In an interview with Politiken newspaper, Thorning-Schmidt denied the rumour, which has its roots in the long-running tax scandal surrounding the couple.
“I have to be honest and say that it was really difficult for our family, particularly for our children, to have to contend with this kind of rumour,” the prime minister said to Politiken. “Therefore we felt the need as a family to say that just because a claim is repeated often, it doesn’t make it true.”
The couple also now plans to publicly release documents relating to the tax scandal in order to address it head-on.
The tax issue dates back to June 2010, when the Copenhagen office of tax authority Skat audited then-opposition leader Thorning-Schmidt and Kinnock, who at the time worked and lived part-time in Switzerland. Kinnock did not pay taxes in Denmark, and the investigation ultimately declared that he did not owe Danish taxes, but that was hardly the end of the story.
The confidential audit was leaked to the press, and it was revealed that the Tax Ministry’s then-permanent secretary, Peter Loft, had met with Skat Copenhagen’s director, Erling Andersen, as many as five times, even though the Tax Ministry is barred by law from interfering in specific tax cases. Loft was later fired a few months after Thor Möger Pedersen (Socialistisk Folkeparti) became the tax minister.
Peter Arnfeldt, the spin doctor for the then-tax minister, Troels Lund Poulsen (Venstre), was reported to the police for leaking the audit and Poulsen asked for and received a leave of absence from parliament. Even the top aide to former PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen admitted to being involved in meetings about the audit.
A commission was established to look into the leak, known widely in the national press as Thorning-Schmidt’s ‘skattesag’, or ‘Taxgate’.
The homosexual rumours apparently stem from the couple’s personal accountant, Frode Holm. The commission's investigation turned up a text written by Skat Copenhagen’s tax director Lisbeth Rasmussen that read: “After prolonged discussion, Frode Holm explained that SK [Stephen Kinnock] is bisexual/homosexual.”
It was the likelihood that that line would come out in public that led to the PM’s preemptive strike against the rumour.