Progress Party hit by new sex scandal

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The Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp), Norway’s most conservative represented in Parliament, has landed in another sex scandal. This time it’s costing a Member of Parliament for Frp, Bård Hoksrud, various posts within his party, although it appears he’ll retain his seat in parliament for now.

Bård Hoksrud, a Member of Parliament for the Progress Party, broke Norwegian law by paying for sex with a prostitute. PHOTO: Fremskrittspartiet

Hoksrud, a 38-year-old MP from Telemark, decided to resign from all his tillittsverv (entrusted posts) within the party after TV2 revealed that he had paid for sex with a prostitute while on a weekend trip to Riga in Latvia. A Norwegian law approved by Parliament in 2008 makes it illegal for Norwegians to buy sex either in Norway or abroad.

Hoksrud also faces a police investigation and fine, but only his party’s nomination authorities can remove him from his MP post. “It’s the party posts he’s been entrusted with (that he’s resigning from), not his job as an MP,” said a communications adviser for the Progress Party.

TV2 reported on its nightly news program Wednesday that Hoksrud had broken Norwegian law when he traveled to Riga over the weekend with three members of the party’s youth group, and bought sexual services from a prostitute.

When confronted by TV2 with photos from the so-called “massage institute” that he visited, taken with a hidden camera, Hoksrud quickly admitted he had broken the law by paying NOK 1600 (about USD 300) to have sex with a prostitute. Hoksrud, who lives in Stathelle, is married with two children.

“It shouldn’t have happened,” Hoksrud told TV2. “For me, this will have enormous consequences that I must take responsibility for.” The members of the youth group reportedly did not accompany him to the massage institute.

It’s the latest in a series of sex scandals to hit the Progress Party, which was severely shaken earlier this year when another former leader of its youth group, Trond Birkeland, was arrested and charged with immoral and obscene behaviour directed at young men in the party. Birkeland, who had been the party’s candidate for mayor of Stavanger, allegedly filmed them unknowingly while they were naked in his bathroom. Other sex scandals over the years have involved cases of infidelity, sexual harassment and exploitation, and even the statutory rape of a 16-year-old party member by another party official. He claimed their sex was consensual, and he remains in office.

‘The media is after us’
Per Sandberg, deputy leader of the Progess Party, claimed his party is no worse than others but simply gets caught most often. “The media is after us,” Sandberg told newspaper VG. “I think we just get revealed more often.”

Sandberg called the Hoksrud case “deeply regrettable” as did former party leader Carl I Hagen, who said he was “sad” about it. “Bård has behaved in an unacceptable manner, but he hasn’t committed murder,” Hagen said. “The only ones he’s hurt, are himself and his family.”

Both also questioned the use of TV2’s hidden camera, but TV2 chief Alf Hildrum and media watchdog Per Kokkvold defended it. “This involves a legal offense by one of our elected officials,” Hildrum told VG. “It would have been difficult to reveal this case with using a hidden camera.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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