Stefan Löfven comments on aide's resignation
In his first comments since his closest aide stepped down on Sunday over the way she handled the IT scandal at the Swedish Transport Agency, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven maintained that he did not know anything about the scandal until January this year.
Speaking to journalists at a Wednesday press conference, Löfven said that he believes the infrastructure minister and the home affairs minister – and not his state secretary – should have been the ones to inform him about the IT scandal and that it should have happened early last year.
Last month, Löfven ordered a review of the communication and sharing of information between different government departments and between individual civil servants and politicians. That review led to the resignation of his state secretary, Emma Lennartsson, on Sunday night, Löfven said.
"Emma Lennartsson had been present on two occasions where it was mentioned, very fleetingly, for example that the review of the Transport Agency issue is ongoing. But nothing was said about the content of the matter,” Löfven told journalists on Wednesday.
“Since then, Emma Lennartsson has concluded that she should have asked follow-up questions, but she did not and because of that she has resigned," said Löfven, who also described his former state secretary as a “very conscientious person”.
Since the situation was described as an "ongoing" case, Lennartsson felt she had no reason to believe there was a need for her to follow it up, said Löfven, adding that, “in hindsight…she reached the conclusion that she should have asked more questions”.
Löfven stressed that the responsibility for the security breech lays with the Transport Agency, where the director-general committed a crime when she decided to deviate from several laws and outsourced the agency's IT-operations in a way that meant that classified information could be handled by staff abroad who had no security clearance.
Löfven insisted that government offices acted on the information immediately after receiving it. “It’s not as if we’re just sitting around doing nothing,” he said.
Löfven added that the Transport Agency has concluded that no damage was incurred and that the government could not have done more than it had done.
"On the other hand, there are aspects of the communication that need to be clarified and strengthened, and that is why we carried out the review that I ordered,” said Löfven. “We have drawn conclusions and more conclusions will be drawn," he said.
In a comment to news agency TT, the leader of the Centre Party, Annie Lööf said: "I think a lot of people around Sweden, including myself, are concerned about how the crisis management at the government offices works. It is good and important that the Constitutional Committee continues to investigate this information break-down. All the cards need to be on the table."