Aftonbladet libelled Littorin: ex-watchdog

Sweden’s biggest tabloid, Aftonbladet, would be likely to lose a libel case over its allegations that former minister Sven Otto Littorin used a prostitute, the former head of Sweden’s press watchdog has said.

Aftonbladet libelled Littorin: ex-watchdog
Photo: Henrik Montgomery/Scanpix

Littorin’s press secretary told Aftonbladet before his resignation that the minister denied ever having paid for sex. Aftonbladet, which had repeatedly tried to secure an interview with Littorin direct, declared that it didn’t communicate through middle-men.

Former press ombudsman Pär Arne Jigenus claims the paper had disregarded important and relevant information simply “because it was given by a representative.”

“In any defamation case against Aftonbladet it would likely be established that the newspaper received a denial right at the beginning of the publishing fermentation process,” Jigenus wrote in Dagens Nyheter.

Jigenius argued that Aftonbladet could well be found in court to have exposed Sven Otto Littorin to other people’s disparagement without having reasonable evidence.

Libel is a crime in Sweden, and is set out in the parts of the constitution that deal with freedom of expression. Those found guilty of libel are usually fined.

Jigenius added that Aftonbladet was not the only newspaper to have made errors of judgement over the Littorin affair:

“Many so-called serious media outlets published more details that the legitimate public interest required,” he wrote.

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