Morten Østergaard has resigned as head of the Social Liberal party after admitting he inappropriately touched a colleague about a decade ago and apologising for letting down the party and the public.
In mid-September, amid a Danish #MeToo revival, Social Liberal Lotte Rod complained about having been groped by party colleagues in the past. While not naming anyone in particular, she said the had contacted the party head, Østergaard, who later said the person in question was given a verbal warning, but assured that the case was closed.
It turns out that Østergaard himself was the mysterious groper, as admitted by the culprit himself.
"I've let down my group and thus my party and the public because I have tried to avoid admitting it to people other than Lotte. I can therefore no longer legitimately continue as the political leader of the Social Liberals", Østergaard said in a Facebook post.
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"Morten has apologised to me and I have forgiven him. The problem is no longer what happened but the handling of it. I'm sorry it ended here because I love Morten. The important thing for me is that we get a culture change", Rod tweeted in response.
Morten har sagt undskyld til mig, og jeg har tilgivet ham. Det er ikke længere det, der skete, der er problemet, det er håndteringen. Jeg er ked af, at det er endt her, fordi jeg holder af Morten. Det vigtige for mig er, at vi får en kulturændringhttps://t.co/Dq4dRcuM3q— Lotte Rod (@LotteRod) October 7, 2020
Following a seven-hour crisis meeting, Østergaard was replaced by Sofie Carsten Nielsen as head of the Social Liberals. Despite his resignation as party head, Østergaard said he would continue in politics.
Surprisingly, the very same Østergaard was one of the most vocal critics of the scandal involving Social Democrat Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod, who admittedly slept with a 15-year-old from his party's youth wing some 12 years ago. Responding to the Kofod incident, Østergaard contended that Kofod's actions should have disqualified him from ever obtaining a ministerial position. At the time the scandal broke out, Kofod resigned from all of posts, but made a spectacular comeback in the Mette Frederiksen government in 2019.
Earlier this autumn, hundreds of current and former politicians signed a petition against sexism in Danish politics, of which they have been a victim or a witness. The revival of the #MeToo campaign was launched by TV anchor Sofie Linde, who called out harassment she claimed to have endured.