• Norway edition
 
Minister resigns over feminist funding scandal
Photo: Heiko Junge/Scanpix

Minister resigns over feminist funding scandal

Published: 05 Mar 2012 14:01 GMT+01:00
Updated: 05 Mar 2012 14:42 GMT+01:00

Equality Minister Audun Lysbakken has resigned over revelations that his department granted funding to a feminist self-defence organization attached to his own Socialist Left Party.

”I’m a firm believer that mistakes have consequences. I bear responsibility for the mistakes that have been made and I take responsibility. I have therefore informed the Prime Minister that I am resigning today as minister,” Lysbakken said at a press conference on Monday afternoon.

Last autumn, the equality ministry earmarked 500,000 kroner ($90,000) for self-defence courses for girls. The funds were discussed in the 2011 budget but were never publicly advertised. Instead, they were awarded to two organizations that contacted the department of their own accord.

The Girls’ Defence (Jenteforsvaret) group received 154,000 kroner.

A parliamentary committee wrote to Lysbakken on January 31st demanding an explanation after newspaper Dagbladet published an article alleging abuses.

According to Lysbakken, his department had originally intended to announce the availability of the funding, but the process was derailed for “different internal reasons”.

Lysbakken on Monday presented 11 new emails and three text messages relating to the case after external investigators sifted through some four million emails, as well as all text messages to and from the minister.

“I’ve done all I can to find all relevant information pertaining to the case. I promise full openness surrounding all documents in the case. I take a serious view of our failure first time round," he said.

Lysbakken previously came under fire after denying that anyone at the ministry had responded to an e-mail sent on April 15th 2010 on behalf of  Girls’ Defence, a sub-group of the party's youth wing.

Already under pressure, the minister’s position became increasingly uncertain after an email emerged on February 24th revealing that secretary of state Henriette Westhrin had in fact replied to the group’s request for funding and had vowed to look into the matter.

Two days earlier, Lysbakken said “no reply was ever sent” to an e-mail from Mali Steiro Tronsmoen, then head of the Socialist Youth group. The minister also said he had presented all of the relevant documentation in the case to a parliamentary committee examining the alleged misuse of state funds.

In her e-mail, addressed to Henriette Westhrin, the Socialist Youth chief began by presenting the idea of feminist self-defence courses for girls before quickly getting to the point:

“Now that the Socialist Left has moved in to the Ministry for Children and Equality, we wonder if any of you sitting there have the opportunity to carefully go through what possibilities there may be for financing such a project. For us, the most important thing is that girls get the opportunity to participate in the kind of self-confidence and self-defence courses that we can offer, not that the Socialist Left is behind them.”

At the ministry, Henriette Westhrin replied the very same day, writing:

“Hi Mali! I’ll start working immediately to see what the possibilities are. Best regards, Henriette.”

Before sending the email, Westhrin copied in Lysbakken’s political advisor, Line Gaare Paulsen.

When confronted with the e-mail, Audun Lysbakken said he had spoken in good faith when he denied its existence.

As deputy leader of the Socialist Left party, Lysbakken has been seen as one of the main candidates to take over from outgoing party chief Kristin Halvorsen. Despite the scandal, he remains interested in becoming the party's new leader, he said on Monday.

NTB/The Local (news@thelocal.no)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
City bike bidders asked to scrap 1,300 bikes
City bikes in central Oslo. Photo: Clear Channel Norway

City bike bidders asked to scrap 1,300 bikes

Oslo's new city bike tender will require the winning bidder to scrap the city's existing 1,300 bikes and replace the 300 shelters where they're kept, leaving the leading bidders puzzled. READ () »

Kjos fills nine out of ten Dreamliner seats
One of the Asian crews on one of Norwegian Air Shuttles' new Dreamliner Aircraft. Photo: Norwegian

Kjos fills nine out of ten Dreamliner seats

Norwegian Air Shuttle last year filled nine out of ten seats on its new long-haul routes to the US And Thailand, despite the highly publicised delays faced by its new Dreamliner aircraft. READ () »

Norway and China hold secret Oslo talks: NRK
A demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in Oslo in 2010 against the detention of Liu Xiaobo. Photo: Greg Rødland Buick/Amnesty International|Flickr

Norway and China hold secret Oslo talks: NRK

China has begun secret negotiations with Norway over ending the diplomatic freeze triggered by the award of the Nobel Peace Price to a leading Chinese dissident four years ago, NRK has reported. READ () »

Nazis and anti-racists threaten 'Congo village'
A screen grab from footage from the 1914 centennial celebrations of Norway's constitution. Photo: YouTube

Nazis and anti-racists threaten 'Congo village'

With both neo-Nazis and anti-racists apparently threatening to burn down his planned recreation of a 1914 Oslo 'human zoo', the Norwegian-Sudanese artist Mohamed Ali Fadlabi is now more convinced than ever of his idea. READ () »

Icelanders frosty at Christmas tree snub
The ceremonial cutting of a Christmas tree intended for London in 2009. Photo: Oslo City Council

Icelanders frosty at Christmas tree snub

A proposal from Oslo's mayor to stop sending an annual Christmas tree to Reykjavik has sparked a furious reaction from Icelanders, many of whom have interpreted the move as a calculated snub. READ () »

'Dalai Lama meet would make China clash eternal'
Parliament president Olemic Thommessen and Nina Elisabeth Høstmælingen Thommessen arrive at the Nobel Banquet at the Grand Hotel in December. Photo: Fredrik Varfjell/NTB Scanpix

'Dalai Lama meet would make China clash eternal'

The president of the Norwegian parliament has defended his decision not to meet the Dalai Lama when he comes to Oslo next month, arguing that to do so would destroy years of painstaking work to mend relations with China. READ () »

Labour councillor faces sack for gay church view
Ed Dawes. Photo: Facebook

Labour councillor faces sack for gay church view

A councillor from Norway's Labour Party risks being expelled after he argued on Saturday night that gay people who want to get married in church should start their own splinter sect. READ () »

Syria genebank sends seeds to Svalbard
The seeds are delivered the the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on Wednesday. Photo: Global Crop Diversity Trust

Syria genebank sends seeds to Svalbard

More than 80 percent of the valuable crop seeds kept in a gene bank in the Syrian city of Aleppo have been shipped to the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard for safekeeping, the bank's director general revealed on Tuesday. READ () »

Norway MPs slammed for Dalai Lama 'cowardice'
The Dalai Lama visiting Oslo in 2005. Photo: Håkon Mosvsvold Larsen/Scanpix

Norway MPs slammed for Dalai Lama 'cowardice'

Norway's parliament has been accused of cowardice after it declined to offer an official meeting to the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, when he visits Norway next month. READ () »

VIDEO
VIDEO: Norway's incredible rolling robot
Kåre Halvorsen chases the MorpHex rolling robot. Photo: Screen Grab YouTube.

VIDEO: Norway's incredible rolling robot

This rolling spider-like robot is the stuff of sci-fi nightmares, so there's something strangely cute about watching the three-year-old son of its creator chase it around a basketball court. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Tech
VIDEO: Norway's incredible rolling robot
National
Norway teen has lived in cave for a year
National
Hikers to wear green hats if 'open to romance'
National
Norway PM backs gay church weddings
National
Badger gets stuck in car grille and survives
National
Man at recycling plant finds $16,000 in old safe
Culture
Norway celebs plan own funerals in new show
National
Norway man finds adult toy in cod's stomach
International
McCain to vote down would-be envoy
Education
Oslo to get first Muslim primary school
Culture
VIDEO: Norway fans in second Sherlock skit
Culture
Clooney to film North Sea divers movie
Advertisement:
Society
VIDEO: Norway police's chilled way with drunk wows US
Education
VIDEO: Norway skydiver dodges meteorite
National
Oslo shortlisted for Green Capital 2016
International
Work to start on world's tallest wooden house
Culture
NRK boss: Slow TV 'difficult to joke with'
International
Stoltenberg named as next Nato boss
Society
'Silly walk' sign enrages roads agency
Norwegian tattoos McDonald's bill on arm
Sport
Norwegian man 'forgets' luxury boat for two years
Society
VIDEO: Oslo transformed into miniature city
International
GALLERY: Nato troops' Arctic 'selfies'
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

320
jobs available