This – to put it mildly – was not pretty to watch. Many had suspected that the personal advisor of former Minister of Taxation, Liberal hopeful Troels Lund Poulsen was indeed the man behind the leaking of documents about Social Democratic leader and present Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt and now we pretty much have it in the open.
An inquiry will be chewing through the evidence about the involvement of a number of high-ranking civil servants and politicians during the coming year, and I suspect that one or the other skeleton will be brought to light. This also means that we should be careful in making early judgements.
However, what we do know, is this:
1. The tax case did hurt Helle Thorning Schmidt and the Social Democrats: Support for the party fell noticeably both times the case hit the frontpages. From a purely party political/tactical view, exposing the case was very clever.
2. Peter Arnfeldt, special advisor to Tax Minister Troels Lund Poulsen, was involved in the leaking of the Thorning Schmidt case.
3. Peter Loft, the long-serving permanent secretary in the Ministry of Taxation, took a special interest in the case.
Would we need to know is:
1. How and why did Arnfeldt get access to the Thorning Schmidt case?
2. Did the ministry, in particular permament secretary Peter Loft, try to put pressure on Skat København in the handling of the case?
3. Did Arnfeldt act independently or was Troels Lund Poulsen in any way informed or otherwise involved?
4. …and was the press office of the Liberal Party and the party leader, then-Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen informed or otherwise involved, either by Arnfeldt or Lund Poulsen?
5. When Loft realised that papers regarding the Thorning Schmidt case had been leaked, why didn’t he immediately inform the permanent secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office?
Erling Andersen’s and Peter Loft’s reports to the Minister are published here. They are part of the material behind the Tas Minister’s decision to call for a full inquiry.
The case raises a number of other issues: The relationship between “special advisors” and other staff, the relationship between “special advisors” and other political sources on the one hand and political journalists on the other, limits for journalists’ protection of their sources, the norms guiding the political competition, etc, etc. But each one of these would merit busloads of blog-posts.