Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir contacted police twice on Christmas Eve after their announcement that they had broken up a party, including “an esteemed government minister”, which was violating coronavirus restrictions.
As reported, the minister in question was Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson, who is also the chairperson of the Independence Party, to which Áslaug also belongs. RÚV reports that shortly after the police blotter announcement reached the media, Áslaug Arna contacted Halla Bergþóra Björnsdóttir, the chief of the Reykjavík area police, twice by phone.
Both confirmed that the phone conversations happened on Christmas Eve. In a written response to RÚV, Bergþóra said that conversations concerned “information that the police has and how it is handled”. Áslaug Arna gave further explanations for the phone calls, saying she asked the police about their working rules and the police blotter from the point of view of Icelandic privacy laws.
When pressed if anything else was discussed, Áslaug Arna said, “I am the highest police supervisory authority in this country, and it often falls on me to answer questions regarding their work practices. I believe it’s important to be well informed and in good communication with the police chief to be able to answer questions from the general public and the media.” She added that she did not in any way interfere with police investigations of the case.
While Bjarni has apologised for his attendance at the event, calls for his resignation have all but disappeared. However, police are currently reviewing their work practices concerning what kind of personal information may be made in an announcement of the work they do.
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