Returning from stress leave: Ellemann will speak out on mysterious weapons deal

Today leader of Venstre and Minister of Defense Jakob Ellemann-Jensen will explain a delicate matter: Why did the government choose to buy weapons for billions of kroner from the Israeli company Elbit and were there other manufacturers involved in the tender process

Shortly after the Minister of Defense Jakob Ellemann temporarily stepped down from office in February on stress leave, a case about arms purchases arose which only he himself can answer. Now, having returned to his post, he will today issue an explanation to the other parties and the media.

According to Altinget Ellemann and his ministry in January gave Folketinget incorrect information in a case about the urgent purchase of Israeli weapons to the value of DKK 1.7 billion.

At the time, the Danish Parliament was told, among other things, that the offer from the Israelis would expire a few days later, which it later transpired was inaccurate.

The Ministry of Defense also informed Parliament that offers had been obtained from several different suppliers. But the suppliers in question have not endorsed this claim.

Account of the purchase

Over the spring, the case attracted strong criticism from other parties in the Folketing, and Acting Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen ordered an internal investigation into the course of the arms purchase.

The outcome of this will be presented today when Jakob Ellemann will meet with the parties in Folketinget and subsequently answer questions from the media.

Several parties accuse Ellemann of having misled the Parliament in connection with the arms purchase. Jakob Ellemann-Jensen has denied that this was his intention.

“I have passed on what I have received from my ministry and from the Defense Material and Procurement Agency. I have not embellished or changed anything,” he said to TV2 last week, on his first day at back after his sick leave.

Can’t apologize forever

According to Professor Sten Bønsing of Aalborg University Law Department it’s a poor interpretation of Danish ministerial responsibility, hinging on the idea that “you are not responsible for something you did not do yourself.”

“It is in the Ministerial Accountability Act that you have to organize the ministry so that you get the relevant information. So you can’t get through a lifetime as a minister just by apologizing and claiming that it was the officials’ fault every time,” said Sten Bønsing to Altinget.