Deleted texts plague Danish government in mink inquiry

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen came under fire on Thursday for deleting text messages related to last year's illegal culling of farmed minks over coronavirus fears.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen speaks to press on October 28th. Frederiksen has been forced to answer questions over auto-deleted SMS messages as an inquiry continues over the 2020 decision to cull fur farm mink.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen speaks to press on October 28th. Frederiksen has been forced to answer questions over auto-deleted SMS messages as an inquiry continues over the 2020 decision to cull fur farm mink. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Formerly the world’s leading exporter of mink fur, the Scandinavian country controversially killed all of its 15-17 million minks over a mutated strain of the virus found in some minks. 

Studies had suggested the variant could jeopardise the effectiveness of future vaccines. 

But with the mass culling programme already underway, a court challenge to the order found that the government’s decision had no legal basis. 

Under the legislation, the government only had the authority to ask mink farmers in the seven municipalities affected by the mutation to cull their minks.

An agreement was reached retroactively rendering the government’s decision legal and the nationwide cull went ahead as planned.

An official inquiry into the government’s handling of the matter had requested access to Frederiksen’s cell phone text messages and those of three close advisers.

However, the prime minister said they no longer existed as her phone setting automatically deleted them after 30 days.

“I was advised by the prime minister’s office to have automatic deleting of my text messages turned on for security reasons, and I chose to follow that advice,” the PM told broadcaster TV2 on Thursday.

But questions arose over the policy.

The justice ministry said Thursday that its minister Nick Haekkerup’s phone had never been set to automatically delete messages. 

Former Liberal prime minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said the same. 

The opposition, led by the Liberal party, on Thursday urged the justice minister to demand a police investigation into the deleted text messages and to have the missing texts restored.

Frederiksen is due to testify before the inquiry on December 9th.


Member comments

  1. Funny fact, now the working citizen who pays taxes and consumes, must pay millionaire compensation for such a mistake. Classic Social Democrats

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Danish mink breeders to sue state over 2020 culling

Owners of Danish mink fur farms are to sue the state for 600 million kroner in compensation for the decision in late 2020 to cull all minks in the country due to concerns related to Covid-19 transmission in the animals.

Culled minks at a Danish fur farm in November 2020.
Culled minks at a Danish fur farm in November 2020.File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The amount is considered by the mink breeders to be necessary compensation for mink skins that were destroyed last year, broadcaster TV2 Fyn reports.     

In the 2020 compensation package agreed by parliament for the mink breeders, a price of 250 kroner per mink skin was set.

But Danish mink skins fetched an average price of 323 kroner per skin at autumn 2021 auctions, according to the report.

Mink breeders therefore contend they are being under compensated by 73 kroner per skin.

A breeder interviewed by TV2 Fyn defended the position to seek more than the price set by the market value at the time of the political compensation deal.

“The animals that were culled last year in November were to be sold in 2021. So you should get 2021 prices,” the breeder, Jens Jensen, told TV2.

Compensation for destructed skins forms part of a broader compensation package agreed by the Danish parliament following the cullings and shuttering of the mink fur industry in the country last year.

The deal is worth some 19 billion kroner, of which 2.5 billion have so far been paid out according to a status published by the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) on November 19th.

READ ALSO: Denmark to spend billions on compensation deal for mink farmers

Liberal party food spokesperson Erling Bonnesen, who was involved in agreeing the original compensation package, told the regional media that the price was calculated based on available market information at the time.

“So there’s a retrospective rationalisation (here) based on price trends and market trends. But this must be decided in court,” Bonnesen said.

Around 15 million fur farm minks were culled after a mutation of Covid-19 was detected in the animals in autumn 2020.

Health authorities were concerned the mutation could result in increased resistance by the virus to Covid-19 vaccines, which were still in development at the time.

READ ALSO: Denmark government backs extension of ban on mink farming