Giske fights on, as does his partner

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The embattled Norwegian Labour Party’s shamed star, Trond Giske, still isn’t giving up his fight against all the sexual harassment charges that have piled up against him. He’s now sent a letter contesting several of the charges, while his live-in partner, entertainer Haddy Njie, has written a letter of her own in which she blasts Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre.

Labour Party veteran Trond Giske was one of the most powerful men in Norwegian politics, but had to resign as deputy party leader and, later, as finance policy spokesman, amidst charges he has sexually harassed women for years. He retains his seat in Parliament because it’s an elected position from which he can’t resign. PHOTO: Arbeiderpartiet/Bernt Sønvisen

As Støre headed for Stockholm on Monday to commiserate with other defeated social-democratic parties around Europe, Giske and his partner weren’t accepting last week’s decision by the party’s central board that supported Støre’s conclusion in the case. He determined that Giske had violated the party’s guidelines and rules against sexual harassment and had behaved inappropriately, especially given his position as a goverment minister at the time of some of the alleged harassment.

Norwegian media widely reported during the weekend how Giske is contesting three of the complaints that ended up costing him his powerful positions as deputy party leader and finance policy spokesman. Newspaper VG reported that he sent the letter late Friday afternoon, in which he gives his version of five concrete complaints against him. He has apologized to the women involved in two of the cases, but contests the other three.

Exasperating
That exasperated one of the women who has complained, and she went live on Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK’s) nightly national newscast to defend her complaint. Sunniva Andreassen has received an apology from Giske, who admitted his harassment of her in 2008 when he was a 41-year-old government minister and she was just 18 years old. She thinks he’s now just trying to have the last word in the other cases, and insist that he’s right and the plaintiffs are wrong.

Giske, who retains his position as an elected Member of Parliament and apparently intends to continue his political career, claims he’s simply trying “as best I can” to contribute to “reuniting” the party to “work with the important political issues ahead of us.” He disagreed, however, with some of the charges against him. He wants to be heard, while Støre has said he already has heard Giske’s versions “and spent more time with him” than he had with the plaintiffs.

“This is Giske’s way of moving on,” one Labour Party board member, Ingvild Kjerkol, told newspaper Aftenposten on Saturday. “And we must respect that.”

Partner blasts the party and Støre
Giske’s partner Haddy Njie, with whom he recently had a child, had already sent a scathing letter to Labour Party secretary Kjersti Stenseng, in which she claimed the party’s “process” of evaluating the complaints against Giske had been “unpredictable, one-sided and absurd, with a complete lack of attention to the rule of law.” She claimed Giske had not been given a proper chance to defend himself, since he was out on sick leave. She criticized Støre for choosing “the easy way out” and “sacrificing fundamental principles for handling such cases so that he would emerge best from it.”

Støre responded that he could “understand” that it has been a “demanding time for Trond Giske and his live-in partner” after the party received complaints about Giske and handled them internally. He noted that he had responded several times to questions over how the complaints were handled, and how the party’s board accepted and supported his conclusion.

“For the Labour Party, this is over, and the central board had supported that,” Støre told newspaper Aftenposten and other media. “Apart from that I have no comment to the email Haddy Njie sent to the party secretary.”

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund