Persson defends pub fight ‘nice girl’

Sweden’s prime minister Göran Persson has expressed his support for Social Democrat youth movement (SSU) president Anna Sjödin, who has been accused of assault following a pub brawl on Saturday night.

The controversy surrounding Sjödin’s visit to Stockholm’s Crazy Horse pub on Saturday night continued on Tuesday, as Sjödin brought in star lawyer Leif Silbersky to represent her.

Sjödin spent Saturday night in a police cell after a doorman at the bar accused her of hitting him and hurling racial abuse. The SSU president has denied assaulting or verbally abusing the doorman, instead accusing him of attacking and insulting her.

Deputy chief prosecutor Per Lindqvist confirmed an investigation is underway into the accusations against Sjödin and various charges relating to the alleged assault are being considered, but said he did not want to make detailed comments about the investigation.

Sjödin sacked lawyer Tomas Rothpfeffer on Tuesday morning, and hired Leif Silbersky instead. Following a meeting with Sjödin, Silbersky said his client would hear from the police later this week, and that she would then make her own complaint against the doorman.

“I would first like Anna to give her own version of events, and then we will make our counter-complaint.”

He did not reveal the crimes of which Sjödin planned to accuse the doorman. Nor would he reveal who asked him to represent Sjödin.

Meanwhile, the prime minister said he still had confidence in Anna Sjödin.

“This is not someone I had expected to have to see in this kind of situation,” said Persson.

Asked how he reacted when he heard about the brawl, he said he was “naturally very sorry when I saw this nice girl get into this [situation].”

Persson said he didn’t think that the brawl would affect the election campaign, as there were much more important issues at stake.

“This is naturally a disruption to her work in the campaign, but has no major political significance.”

But Peter Esaiasson, professor of political science at Gothenburg University, said the furore was unfortunate for the Social Democrats.

“It is bad for them, given that it comes just as they thought things were going their way, and when they want the debate to be about rising employment. But essentially I think that it will be forgotten pretty soon,” he said.

TT/The Local