Government rules out royal truth commission
TT/The Local/pvs · 1 Jun 2011, 15:42
Published: 01 Jun 2011 15:42 GMT+02:00
- King Carl XVI Gustaf: the complete interview (01 Jun 11)
- Alleged King pics to be released: ex-gangster (01 Jun 11)
- The King's turbulent year: a timeline (31 May 11)
- Swedish press reacts to royal denials (31 May 11)
The government had been urged by Left Party MP Lena Olsson to set up a truth commission to look into claims forwarded by recent books into the King's affairs.
In response to Olsson's written question, justice minister Beatrice Ask on Wednesday said that she was unwilling to speculate on the media reports of "alleged contacts between the friends of the head of state and people with criminal backgrounds".
"I neither intend to take any initiative to set up a commission charged with investigating the veracity of those claims," she continued.
Lena Olsson is however not surprised at the minister's response.
"The government is of course much closer to the king than we on the left are, so I'm not surprised at the answer," she said, while continuing to argue for the need for a truth commission.
"It is weak and wrong to hand all the responsibility to the media and into the hands of criminals," she said.
Anna Ramberg, Secretary-General of the Swedish Bar Association, argued earlier on Wednesday that media reports concerning the King's alleged visits to sex clubs, and contact between his friends and criminals, had gone beyond what is acceptable.
"One can't mock the monarchy and its representatives in such a malicious manner like this," Ramberg wrote on her blog, forwarding very harsh criticism against parts of the media for a "systematic defamation of the royal family".
According to the press ombudsman (PO), Ola Sigvardsson, being head of state includes a requirement to withstand tougher scrutiny than others.
"But it is clear there are limits. It is very problematic if you say things without being able to substantiate it," he said.
According to Sigvardsson, much of the news reporting of the revelations has been handled correctly. He observed however that some reports have been problematic.
Sigvardsson cited the taped recordings of the King's close friend Anders Lettström speaking with a representative of the criminal underworld, as an example of legitimate material about which to question the King.
Among the more problematic were the images that broadcaster TV4 has claimed to have looked at.
"It is problematic to make comments about images that the viewers themselves are unable to form an opinion about. Especially when it concerns serious matters. Here there is a source material problem that is important," he said.
There is nothing preventing the King from turning to the ombudsman to request a review of the reporting of the revelations, but Ola Sigvardsson doubts whether the monarch will take this course of action.
"To my knowledge it has never happened that the royal family has turned to the PO, but the possibility surely exists."