Bára Halldórsdóttir, the person who secretly recorded revealing conversation between six Icelandic MP’s at a local bar, has been subpoenaed to appear in Reykjavik district court. The tapes were recorded on the evening of Tuesday the 20th of November at Klaustur Downtown Bar, across the street from the Icelandic parliament. The tapes are more than three hours long and during the first hour the parliament was still in session. A week later Bára sent the tapes to DV under the pseudonym Marvin, she also sent the tapes to Stundin magazine and the website Kvennablaðið. Bára was at first hesitant to come forward and gave an interview with DV anonymously. The case caused a big scandal in Iceland during the first week of December as DV, Stundin and Kvennablaðið published excerpts from the tapes they deemed relevant to the public.
As DV has reported the six MP’s are heard discussing political backchanneling in appointing ambassadors to the United States and Finland. The tapes, first revealed by DV on Wednesday, also reveal the MP’s making misogynistic remarks and mocking a disabled former MP. All three MP‘s are members of the opposition, four are members of The Centre Party (Miðflokkurinn) and two are members of The People‘s Party (Flokkur fólksins). One of the MP‘s is Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, former PM that resigned after the Panama Papers scandal in 2016. Other MP‘s include Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, former foreign minister, who also made a homophobic remark. The other MP‘s are Anna Kolbrún Árnadóttir, Ólafur Ísleifsson, Karl Gauti Hjaltason and Bergþór Ólason.
Bára stepped forward last week in an interview with Stundin magazine, she was then reveled to be a disabled gay woman who was at Klaustur Downtown Bar by happenstance and was shocked to hear what the MP’s were saying.
The matter is now under review by the parliament ethics committee, Bára has supplied the committee with the tapes. All of the MP’s have apologized for their role in the discussion at the bar. Two of the MP’s in question, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson and Bergþór Ólason, have taken a temporary leave of absence. Karl Gauti Hjaltason and Ólafur Ísleifsson have been expelled from the People’s Party. Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and Anna Kolbrún Árnadóttir remain in parliament.
The scandal has caused a great deal of controversy in Iceland as various people are targets of crude and misogynistic remarks. A big shock came when DV revealed remarks made towards Education minister Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, she is called a ‘bitch’ that ‘uses her sexuality’. Ólason is heard saying ‘there’s a body that fits my penis’. Alfreðsdóttir said in an interview with state television, RÚV, that she considers the remarks as violence. Icelanders were also deeply shocked that the MPs’ targets included ex-MP Freyja Haraldsdottir, a disabled woman and well-known disability rights activist. Calls have been made for the MP’s to resign while others say that a private conversation between colleagues should not be a cause for parliamentary expulsion.
Four of the MP’s have retained a lawyer, Reimar Pétursson, to act on their behalf. The subpoena is based on Icelandic privacy laws. Bára Halldórsdóttir is due to appear in Reykjavík court next Monday, the 17th of December, at 3:15 PM for a hearing.