Ministers Fernando Medina and João Galamba tasked with 'dismissal' of TAP top brass on live television: Image: Nuno Fox/ Lusa
Ministers Fernando Medina and João Galamba tasked with 'dismissal' of TAP top brass on live television: Image: Nuno Fox/ Lusa

Government still refuses to release ‘fundamental information’ to TAP inquiry 

Cites need to “safeguard public interest”

Portugal’s government has dug its heels in over the call to release ‘fundamental information’ to the panel of MPs on the inquiry into ‘management’ of national airline TAP.

Says Lusa today, the executive justifies its refusal – particularly when it comes to supplying the legal opinions that backed the resignation “for just cause” of the former CEO Christine Ourmières-Widener – with the need to “safeguard the public interest”.

This issue is further confused by the fact that it is understood Ms Ourmières-Widener could be claiming as much as €3 million in severance pay.

This figure however is not mentioned by Lusa’s story to newsrooms which refers to a note sent by the office of minister Ana Catarina Mendes that claims the legal opinion “in question does not fall within the scope of the parliamentary commission of inquiry”.

Its disclosure, says the note, “involves risks in the legal defence of the State’s position”.

“The government’s response (…) is therefore aimed at safeguarding the public interest,” said the note.

As Lusa continues: the government claims that “the processes of the resignation of the previous CEO and Chairman of TAP have been the subject of public demonstrations that could lead to litigation between the individuals concerned and the State” (this is almost certainly the case, as reports have already alluded to as much).

Ana Catarina Mendes’ office went on to express the government’s “full availability to collaborate with parliament and, in particular, with the parliamentary commission of inquiry”, ensuring that “respect is absolute”, says the State news agency.

Ms Mendes rejected “a climate of permanent tension around a commission of inquiry that should work with tranquility and with which the government cooperates with all institutional loyalty”.

This position comes on the day that PSD social democrats, through MP Paulo Moniz, accused the government of “acting outside the law” by refusing to send all the information requested – particularly the “legal backing” for  Christine Ourmières-Widener’s dismissal.

The PSD’s coordinator on the commission of enquiry, Moniz said the party has been waiting for this information since March 6 when Fernando Medina so famously ‘dismissed’ the TAP top brass on live television.

“We were surprised, extremely surprised, in fact, astonished, that this information was not forwarded to us. It is immediately clear that ministers not only misled the Portuguese with regard to the alleged legal security of their decision, but it is also clear that these same ministers act outside the law,” he told Lusa.

This evening on national news, opposition parties were suggesting the government’s refusal to release the legal opinion backing its treatment of Ms Ourmières-Widener is more likely to be because there isn’t one.

Source material: LUSA