Norwegian politician in hot water over shoplifting scandal

Frazer Norwell
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Norwegian politician in hot water over shoplifting scandal
Bjørnar Moxnes, pictured, has found himself in hot water over a shoplifting scandal. Press photo: Ihne Pedersen

Leader of Norway’s Red Party, Bjørnar Moxnes, is embroiled in a scandal after it emerged that he stole a pair of designer sunglasses from a tax-free store at Oslo Airport.


Bjørnar Moxnes is in hot water after a shoplifting incident and accusations that he has changed his version of events multiple times.

Last week regional Norwegian newspaper Romerikes Blad reported that Moxnes, leader of the Red Party (Rødt), had been caught stealing a pair of sunglasses from Oslo Airport in June.

He received a fine of 3,000 kroner for the incident, and Norwegian police confirmed that they had received a report and photos and videos of the event.

Initially, Moxnes said that he had carried the Hugo Boss glasses, which retailed for 1,119 kroner, out of the store by mistake and that an employee asked him to return them.

He later changed his story and said he discovered he had the glasses in his pocket after he and his girlfriend left the store to go and get something to eat. The politician said that instead of returning to the store, he tore the price tag off and put the glasses into his luggage, fearing what would happen.

“What went through my head was that I was terrified that I could cause damage to the party by going back and saying that I had brought the glasses without paying for them and that it could become a serious matter,” Moxnes told reporters on Saturday.

Prosecutor Ole-Martin Gurandsrud told public broadcaster NRK that the police believe, based on video evidence and statements, that Moxnes acted with intent.

On Monday evening, the Norwegian newspaper VG published a CCTV video from the store showing the incident. The footage shows Moxnes and his girlfriend inside the store.

In the video, he is shown putting the glasses back on display before putting them on top of his luggage trolley. The video then shows him putting the glasses in his jacket pocket and leaving the store.


The party has said that Moxnes wants surveillance and photos of the event published for the sake of transparency.

Moxnes is currently on sick leave, and on Monday, the party - the furthest to the left in mainstream Norwegian politics - held an extraordinary national board meeting over the incident.

Acting leader while Moxnes is on sick leave, Marie Sneve Martinussen, told reporters Monday evening that the party had expressed its full confidence in Moxnes.

Despite this analysts believe Moxnes might have a tough time hanging onto his job.


"I don't know, but in order for the voters to forgive, Moxnes must come up with such a good explanation that the course of ev ents does not appear unclear. It still does," Election researcher Johannes Bergh told online newspaper Nettavisen

He added that two factors would determine whether his position would come untenable as a result of the scandal. 

"Two factors: If there is new information that exacerbates the sunglasses story, it will be absolutely devastating and impossible to continue. Nor can he tolerate that a new scandal should emerge," Bergh added.

Bergh said that the Red Party leader should prepare for plenty of jokes to come his way. 


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