Finnish minister fired over erotic texts to stripper
Published 02/04/2008 | 09:59
Finland's embattled Foreign Minister has been finally put out of his misery after he was sacked amid fresh revelations about sexually suggestive text messages he sent to a stripper.
Ilkka Kanerva had refused to back down during weeks of media revelations about the 200 text messages he sent to 29-year-old Johanna Tukiainen, a former nude model and leader of an erotic dance ensemble called the Scandinavian Dolls.
As late as Monday the minister, who has served in several government roles during his career, was still insisting that he could continue in office. But with the publication of some of the messages in a celebrity magazine yesterday, his conservative National Coalition Party took the decision out of his hands, removing him from the post.
After initially arguing that he had never sent any text messages to the dancer, the 60-year-old politician later admitted doing so and apologised, but argued that the messages had not been inappropriate and purely business related.
The Finnish media continued to pursue the story however, and the minister was again forced into changing his version of events, making the embarrassing admission that the content of the messages to the dancer had not been wholly appropriate.
His downfall was finally sealed after Hymy, a Finnish celebrity magazine, published some of the minister's messages to Ms Tukiainen sent during the early hours one night. "Would you like to do it in an exotic place? Where could it be?" he asked her in one. In another, he asked if he could touch her in a nightclub. The magazine also said Mr Kanerva had asked the former model about her underwear in one of the messages, while another proposed a dinner date with Ms Tukiainen and her sister.
The chairman of Mr Kanerva's party, Jyrki Katainen, said removing him from office had been the toughest decision he had faced as the party's leader, adding that Mr Kanerva had done his job as Foreign Minister "brilliantly".
But he said the public's trust in the minister had been eroded by the long-running text message saga, and that the most recent developments suggested Mr Kanerva had shown a "great lack of judgement" in his private life.
This was not the first time Mr Kanerva's texting habits have landed him in trouble. He was caught up in a similar scandal in 2005, when he sent a number of texts to two models during his time as the deputy speaker of parliament. He was selected as Foreign Minister last year after promising his party not to repeat the incident.
His replacement has already been named as 40-year-old Alexander Stubb, a National Coalition Party MEP. Under Finland's coalition system, it is the party that decides who fills the position of foreign minister. He will officially take office on Friday.