Expressen investigated over Persbrandt “lies”

Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt has won the support of one of Sweden’s most senior law officers in his action against tabloid Expressen, which claimed that he had been admitted to a clinic suffering from alcohol poisoning.

Göran Lambertz, chancellor of justice, said he is investigating whether Expressen and its editor Otto Sjöberg could be guilty of libelling Persbrandt in an article on 15th December.

Lambertz told TT that there were clear grounds for him to take up the case, “first and foremost because of the type of information it involves, and because of the violation that it brings with it.”

He sais he was also looking at the case because Expressen’s large circulation meant the story was spread widely and because it appears that the allegations were baseless.

It is ten years since the chancellor of justice last took up a case of this kind under freedom of speech laws.

Mikael Persbrandt’s lawyer Per Liljekvist had asked earlier on Wednesday for the chancellor of justice to prosecute Expressen for gross defamation:

“The coverage of Persbrandt’s private life in certain papers, and in Expressen in particular, has in the past year descended into harrassment and plain persecution.”

“It has now gone so far as to more or less threaten Persbrandt’s social existence. The fact that newspapers such as Expressen can lie about people on the billboards and make large profits on false allegations is against the public sense of justice.”

The chancellor of justice’s investigation is only concerned with the article on 15th December, not the paper’s overall coverage of Persbrandt. Otto Sjöberg says that the decision makes little practical difference for the paper.

“I have apologised in the paper and on the billboards and have been prepared to pay damages.”

“What I find peculiar is that the chancellor of justice has immediately said that there are grounds for prosecution, without first having looked at the issues.”

But the attacks against Sjöberg keep coming. Persbrandt received strong support on Friday from the royal household, which has often been on the receiving end of the tabloids’ sharp pens.

Elisabeth Tarras-Wahlberg, the former press secretary to the king, and now in charge of the households of the young prince and princesses, wrote in Dagens Nyheter on Friday that the faults in Persbrandt’s case were not just a one-off for Expressen, as Sjöberg had said.

“The newspaper has incorporated sensation and scandal into its system as a way of earning money.”

“It is more the rule than the exception that they rely on so-called reliable sources. Sources that sometimes only exist in the reporter’s head, or that when they maybe do exist, are obviously unreliable,” the royal retainer claimed.

TT/The Local