Prosecutors drop Schenström probe

Prosecutors have dropped an investigation into allegations that Fredrik Reinfeldt's one-time closest aide, Ulrica Schenström, had accepted bribes when a journalist paid for her drinks at a bar in Stockholm.

Chief Prosecutor Christer van der Kwast launched a bribery investigation into Schenström and TV4 journalist Anders Pihlblad after it emerged that Pihlblad had paid a 945 kronor bar bill at the end of a joint drinking session.

But van der Kwast said on Monday that he would not be pursuing the case:

“They have completely different accounts of why they met and what the content of this meeting was. This means I can’t prove what I would need to prove, that is to say that this was connected to their duties,” he said.

Van der Kwast said that the details of his interviews with Schenström and Pihlblad would remain confidential. He also said that because he had decided that there was no proof that the evening was connected to their duties, he would not be making any judgments about the size of the benefit gained by Schenström or about how much alcohol she and Pihlblad had consumed.

News of the pair’s drinking session broke when pictures of them drinking at a Stockholm bar appeared in a tabloid newspaper. The photos appeared to show them kissing. Pihlbad later said that Schenström had been ‘jolly’.

The controversy surrounding the evening resulted in Schenström’s resignation and Pihlblad’s suspension.

Prosecutors also examined the question of whether Schenström could be considered to be culpable of dereliction of duty for drinking while she was on call. He said that Schenström’s being on call was different from her actually being at work and exercising public authority.

“You have to have actually made formal decisions in that role,” in order to be liable for prosecution, van der Kwast argued.