The Government Information and Heritage Inspectorate will investigate archiving at the Ministry of General Affairs, Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s department. On Wednesday, it turned out that Rutte had been deleting text messages from his phone for years because his device, he said, had too little storage space. He sent text messages that the Prime Minister deemed important to officials.
Against the news agency PA The inspection indicates that the investigation into the ministry will be opened “on the basis of the information known in recent days”.
Because the Prime Minister deleted his text messages, according to by Volkskrant it is not possible to determine whether this was done in accordance with the Archives Act. According to this law, the government must keep important information and make it accessible. This way the government can be held accountable. The information may also be useful for investigations.
As Rutte has deleted his posts, they can no longer be requested by journalists or organizations via the Open Government Act (Wob). In a debate on the issue in the House of Representatives on Thursday, the parties did not point to deleted posts, but to a pattern they see in the prime minister. They talk about a lack of openness, transparency and trust.
“It’s not about those stupid text messages, but about poor quality and haggling,” PVV leader Geert Wilders told the House of Representatives. Laurens Dassen of Volt wants ministers to have their phones read weekly, as is done in Norway.
“It’s a model,” said GroenLinks chief Jesse Klaver. He said the same discussions had taken place about the abolition of the dividend tax, the Teevendeal, the Council of Ministers minutes on the childcare allowance, the bombing of the Iraqi city of Hawija and the debate on the “function elsewhere” for Pieter Omtzigt.
Rutte archived 41 text messages in six months
From the statement of by Volkskrant it turns out on Thursday that Rutte has forwarded 41 self-sent text messages to his top official in six months. This happened between the end of 2019 and June 2020. The messages are related to corona.
According to the newspaper, among the texts that the Prime Minister has archived, there are also texts like “super”, “once” and “8:40”.
The opposition in the House feels cheated and calls the number 41 inexplicably small. It is difficult for the opposition to imagine that all the relevant messages were made public with this. PVV leader Geert Wilders spoke of a “sink opening up here”.