Swedish spies scrutinised over Bond

2012-08-29 22:13
Gallery  |  click on thumbnail to view larger image

Hobbit village planned for Sweden

Ever wanted to live in your own Hobbit-like home straight out of the Lord of the Rings? Pretty soon you can but you will have to visit the island of Musko, near Stockholm, Sweden.

Stockholm - Revelations that Sweden's spy agency treated itself to a lavish James Bond-themed party have embarrassed the government in a country whose reputation as a model of rectitude has been sullied by a series of public spending scandals.

The party, which included 1 000 guests, casino tables, celebrity entertainers and a tuxedo-clad band playing Bond themes, cost $800 000, took place in June 2011 during a government austerity drive.

The affair is now dominating newspaper front-pages and television chat shows as well as being the talk of dinner parties and fodder for opposition politicians.

Dagens Nyheter newspaper first broke the story of the Bond party on Monday and has followed up with further juicy details.

It said Sapo, Sweden's spy agency, may have failed to put the event out to tender and claimed too much tax back, just as it faces possible cuts in its budget. The political opposition has called for an investigation.

Sapo chief Anders Thornberg said the agency had been "under pressure" after a sweeping re-organisation as well as a suicide bombing in Stockholm by an Islamist militant in December 2010.

"We thought that we needed a special gathering for the whole security police team," Dagens quoted Thornberg as saying.

The Bond party scandal has produced much soul-searching in Sweden about whether the Scandinavian country is jettisoning such values as fairness and efficiency that earned it international respect and helped ensure the popularity of its high tax regime.

This is a country where one minister resigned in the 1995 after she was discovered to have bought some personal goods, including Toblerone chocolate, with her government credit card. It is widely known as the "Toblerone scandal".


It is the latest in a series of scandals that has embarrassed the centre-right government of Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt, beset by falling polls and a galvanised opposition as he tries to cut taxes and welfare spending.

Dagens Nyheter said the spy agency may have to cut 10% of its staff over the next three years in order to meet budget targets, casting the millions of crowns spent on a party in an even less-favourable light.

For critics, it is a sign that the market reforms of the last years have seeped into Sweden's once austere government bodies and led to a rise in the kind of lavish spending that some Swedes see more in keeping with large corporations.

"Public institutions look more these days at the culture of private sphere and the market," said Ulf Bjereld, professor of political science at Gothenburg University.

"Public institutions used to be more austere," Bjereld said.

He recalled the case of the wife of Prime Minister Tage Erlander, who famously returned some pencils labelled "property of the state office" after her husband died in 1985.

The Ministry of Enterprise is under investigation after reports that it failed to tender contracts out for a lavish Christmas party.

Tighten control

The Swedish Foundation of Strategic Research was forced to apologise for spending more than a million dollars destined for research on a party for 500 guests.

The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth was also reported to have spent thousands of dollars on events such as ski trips and dinners.

Under pressure, Prime Minsister Reinfeldt criticised senior civil servants. But he said the scandals should not be used as an excuse to reassert tight central government control.

"They are well paid and should know better," Reinfeldt told Dagens.

Morgan Johansson, a leading figure in the opposition Social Democats, told Dagens Nyheter, the government must tighten control.

"I think it's called for the government to effect a major review of its authorities," he told Dagens. "The government has left authorities to their own devices".

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    sweden

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Argentina overpower spirited Tonga
LIVE: Ireland v Italy
As it happened: Tonga 16-45 Argentina
Betham: Future is out of my hands
Traffic Alerts

Spontaneity is the order of the day. Let go and have some fun. Try not to set too many set plans and expectations and enjoy the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.