Centre Party MPs Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson have failed to respond to repeated requests to meet with the Constitutional and Supervisory Committee, RÚV reports. The committee, which was scheduled to meet with the MPs today to discuss the content of the Klaustur recordings, has thus postponed the event.
Sigmundur Davíð and Gunnar Bragi were among a group of six members of parliament caught on tape making sexist, homophobic, and ableist comments about colleagues at a Reykjavík bar. The contents of the recording have caught the attention of local and international media and led to public protest.
The committee called the meeting to discuss specific statements made by Gunnar Bragi in the recording, specifically regarding the appointment of Geir Haarde as ambassador. In the recording, Gunnar Bragi spoke at length about the how he’d appointed former Prime Minister Geir Haarde to an ambassadorial position as a political favour that he expected to be rewarded for by current Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson. Sigmundur Davíð is heard on the tape confirming the statement. Pirate Party MP Þórhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir has stated that considering the statements, Geir Haarde’s appointment would represent corruption in public service and entail a breach of ethics.
Bjarni Benediktsson and current Foreign Affairs Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson had also been requested to attend the meeting. Bjarni had confirmed his attendance, while Guðlaugur Þór is currently abroad and would have missed the meeting.
Hindering committees’ work
Helga Vala Helgadóttir, the committee’s chairperson, says it is a serious issue if elected officials can get away with ignoring requests from standing committees of parliament. “It’s one thing to struggle with doing your own job, but another when you’re getting in the way of the work of entire committees,” she stated.
The four MPs have hired a lawyer to represent them in the case. The lawyer has contacted the Icelandic Data Protection Authority on their behalf. The Authority has received four messages from the public asking whether they will investigate the issue. Data Protection Commissioner Helga Þórisdóttir has stated that it remains unclear whether or not the Authority will formally investigate the issue, but it will be discussed at a board meeting at the end of next week. “It’s natural that some kind of stance will be taken on the issue by the Data Protection Authority,” Helga added, saying the recordings could be investigated in relation to privacy laws.