The Government Information and Heritage Inspectorate will investigate archiving at the Ministry of General Affairs, the department of Prime Minister Mark Rutte. On Wednesday it turned out that Rutte had been removing text messages from his phone for years, because, according to his own account, his device had too little storage space. He sent text messages that the prime minister thought was important to officials.
Against news agency AP The inspectorate says that the investigation into the ministry will be started “on the basis of the information that has become known in recent days”.
Because the prime minister deleted his text messages, according to de Volkskrant it is not possible to determine whether this was done in accordance with the Archives Act. According to that law, the government must retain important information and make it accessible. In this way, the government can be held accountable. The information can also be useful for investigations.
Because Rutte deleted his messages, they can no longer be requested by journalists or organizations via the Open Government Act (Woo). In a debate on the issue in the House of Representatives on Thursday, the parties do not point to the deleted messages, but to a pattern that they see in the Prime Minister. They speak of a lack of openness, transparency and trust.
“It’s not about those stupid text messages, but about the shoddy and haggling,” said PVV leader Geert Wilders in the House of Representatives. Laurens Dassen of Volt wants ministers to have their telephones read every week, as is done in Norway.
“It’s a pattern,” said GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver. He stated that the same discussions were held about the abolition of the dividend tax, the Teevendeal, the minutes of the Council of Ministers on the childcare allowance, the bombing of the Iraqi city of Hawija and the debate about the “function elsewhere” for Pieter Omtzigt.
Rutte archived 41 text messages within six months
From reporting from de Volkskrant It turns out on Thursday that Rutte forwarded 41 self-sent text messages to his highest official in six months. That happened between the end of 2019 and June 2020. The messages are corona-related.
According to the newspaper, among the texts that the prime minister archived, there are also texts such as “super”, “once” and “8:40 am”.
The opposition in the Chamber feels cheated and calls the number of 41 inexplicably small. It is difficult for the opposition to imagine that all relevant messages have been made public with this. PVV leader Geert Wilders spoke of a “cesspool that opens here”.
Improvement: in an earlier version of this article we wrote about the Government Information (Public Access) Act. (Wob) That law no longer exists. The Open Government Act (Woo) has been replaced by May 1, 2022. The message has been adjusted.