Minister of the Interior Hanna Birna Kristjánsdóttir met with the former Commissioner of the Capital Area Police four times during police investigations of her ministry, but denies she ever tried to exert influence. These acts may put her on shakey ground with members of her own party.
In a statement posted on the ministry’s website, Hanna Birna has responded to a formal request from Parliamentary Ombudsman Tryggvi Gunnarsson regarding news that Hanna Birna had allegedly told then Commissioner of the Capital Area Police Stefán Eiríksson, both in person and over the phone, that she was unhappy with how investigations of her ministry were being conducted. Tryggvi spoke with both Stefán and State Prosecutor Sigríður Friðjónsdóttir about the story before making his request.
According to Hanna Birna’s statement, she met with Stefán not once but four times during police investigations of her ministry, “but none of [the meetings] were in order to discuss the investigations especially”. Hanna Birna also categorically denied she ever did anything to stand in the way of investigations.
“I have never done anything to inhibit investigations,” she wrote in part. “On the contrary, we have always sought to provide the police with total access to all the documents related to the case.”
However, Hanna Birna did confirm that she discussed with Stefán “the security of the documents that police had access to” that did not pertain to the investigations, and also “when one might expect that the investigations will be over.” She added that she repeatedly asked Stefán if her asking these questions was “inappropriate or uncomfortable”, saying that Stefán told her this was not the case.
While whether or not this counts as trying to influence police investigations could be a matter of interpretation, sources within the Independence Party (which Hanna Birna vice chairs) that DV spoke to have indicated she might already be on thin ice.
“If Hanna Birna spoke with Stefán along these lines, or if she called a meeting [with him] about the police investigations, then she will be asked to resign. That is absolutely certain,” said one source within the party, who asked to remain anonymous. Other party members pointed out that not even Independence Party chairperson Bjarni Benediktson has come to her defense, electing instead to remain silent on the matter.
How members of parliament within the ruling coalition will respond remains to be seen. However, Left-Green MP Ögmundur Jónasson, the chairperson of The Constitutional and Supervisory Committee, told RÚV that his committee intends to have the minister answer some questions about the allegations, and says the committee will convene on the matter by the end of August. The Pirate Party has proposed the minister be called to meet with the committee in person.