24 February 2019

A demand from a lawyer for removal of a convicted psychiatrist's name

By Marianne Haslev Skånland

On 19 February a mail came to my mail address. In it, a lawyer asks that I immediately remove the name of one of her firm's clients, a psychiatrist, from a specific article published on my website.

She headed her mail with the name of the client, but I would like to be kind, so I have replaced it here in this published version as well as in the mail I sent her in reply.

Criminal court cases in Norway are on principle open, as are the judgments in them, although parts can be anonymised, mainly out of consideration for witnesses. The judgments in this case had, prominently visible on p 1, the text: "Ingen begrensninger i adgangen til offentlig gjengivelse" (No limitations on the permission for public re-publishing.) The alleged restriction has come in a separate and later decision, it is said.

I can inform my readers that the name of the sentenced psychiatrist has appeared numerous times in different places on facebook as well as abroad, and also on Resett.no. When the mail demanding anonymity came to several sources of information, Resett published Jan Simonsen's account of the demand, which recapitulates most of the content of the lawyer's mail:
Forbud mot å gjengi navn på kjent barnepsykiater som samlet 200 000 overgrepsbilder (Prohibition on re-publishing the name of well-known child psychiatrist who gathered 200,000 abuse pictures)

I have rarely seen a more spontaneous reaction from readers. One commenter on Resett writes: "Hadde ikkje Oslo Tingrett ynskt å anonymisere han, hadde heller ikkje eg funne ut namnet hans, så godt jobba!" (If Oslo District Court had not wished to anonymise him, I would not have found out his name, so well done!)

That is it, of course: the clownish silencing of criticism and opposition from official sources in Norway can not in the long run succeed, hopefully, because openness is the only way to putting a stop to abuses imposed on families, not least their children, from the public sector. The many families who have been exposed to this psychiastrist's evaluations, are perfectly justified in wanting to be informed that he is the person who has now been sentenced, and action by the state itself ought to have been taken a year ago to remedy the harm this psychiatrist has done in such cases.

Jan-Aage Torp, whom I refer to in my mail to Ms Beatrice Brøndrup, has published a short account, in which he refers to the demand from the lawyer and to the interest this has created in "more than 50 of the above-mentioned contacts", as well as to a translation into English having been made abroad:
International interest for the verdict against child psychiatrist


A remark on facebook:

Olav Terje Bergo  If this assistant lawyer is correct: that an after-the-fact decision has been made to change an earlier judgement which kept to the usual rule of criminal judgements being public, it is reminiscent of what was the practice in the Soviet Union during the purges in the 1930s. History books and old photographs were changed. Earlier revolutionary heroes whom Stalin had had liquidated, were removed from books and even retouched away from old photographs.

But in our times, removing the name of this central, pedophile child protector is just about like trying to put the toothpaste back again into a hundred thousand toothpaste tubes. All his lawyer achieves is to create even more interest in the name he so desperately tries to conceal. Why? Because all the editors and journalists who hear about his attempts will ask themselves the question: Why is he doing this? Is he again trying to get himself a central position in the treatment of children and child protection cases, without being confronted with what he has been sentenced for?


Mail sent by me in response to Ms Brøndrup's mail of 19 February

Oslo, 22 February 2019

Assistant lawyer Beatrice Brøndrup
Advokatfirmaet Hjort DA
Akersgaten 51 / Postboks 471 Sentrum
0105 Oslo

Your client Mr NN (who, according to you, is to be very anonymous)

I have received from you a mail without an addressee.

Do you know, I am actually so old-fashioned that I prefer people to start a business letter to me by indicating, by use of my name, that I am the one they are writing to. I also see that your firm Hjort, in the tail added at the bottom of the mail, forbids in rather strong terms that anybody practically pays any attention to the mail at all if it has been wrongly sent to an unintended receiver, not to the one who actually receives it. A certain contradiction between the two facts seems to be in the air.

The mail is nevertheless probably intended for me, I can see from the mail addresses. However: it does seem a bit impolite.

You refer to a decision from Oslo Tingrett (Oslo District Court) of 30 September 2018, regarding a judgment against your client. You do not, though, make this decision easily accessible for me.

Your mail says, on the one hand, that renderings of the judgment can only be done in anonymised form. On the other hand, you ask that
all information "which can be connected to our client" should be removed and that this should be done immediately.

The two demands are not the same. I already knew, before the judgment, Mr NN's name and I knew of some of his activities in the child protection system, where the quality of his evaluating ability has been judged by families he has delivered assessments of, to be criticisable. It will be interesting for me to see whether the decision from Oslo Tingrett concerning a judgment also obliges me to be silent about matters I know independently of the judgment.

As regards Mr NN's evaluating ability, it is strongly relevant that the criminal matters fall within exactly that sector in which he has delivered professional assessments of others, and has not done it with realism about the families. His actions are of interest even without such a court case, but of course the case in the criminal court against him is of high general interest seen in relation to what he has carried out professionally. For families who have been affected by his professional activity, and especially for the children in these families, publication provides a protection and secrecy is very harmful. It is also harmful when the courts and the public prosecuting authority do not provide for the real facts for the families hit by child protection assessments to be brought out into the light.
    Certainly a well-functioning and ethically conscious public prosecutor should exist who went strongly against a decision which curtails publication in such a way as in the decision you describe, a public prosecutor who also through informing the public let the system's sufferers know what was afoot. Not the interests of the state but the interests of the system's victims should be taken care of here. When the state's authorities do not of themselves see to it at least that the decisions in child protection cases in which Mr NN has been involved, were immediately declared null and void and the children were given freedom to come home, it calls for respect that the families do their best to bring the horrors to a stop by working for publication of facts. I am sure you understand: These families who have been 'assessed' by people with judgmental abilites like your client's, have been exposed to great strain in addition to having their family destroyed on a
fictitious basis: the parents are maligned and harassed in newspaper articles and on the internet by virtuous citizens and by authorities, in very many cases for things they have not done to their own children whom they love; cf what your client has in court complained of, which he thinks should lead to him not being separated from his children through a prison sentence.

The preliminaries of the criminal case you refer to took place from 2017 and the judgment came in April 2018. After that time, 5 months have passed before the alleged decision was taken. Then, another 5 months have passed before you tell me that such a decision exists. Perhaps it should be considered slightly unreasonable to demand that then I should
immediately react as you wish?

Furthermore, what you refer to from my web pages about Mr NN was published in May 2018, i.e some months
before the decision mentioned. It is not immediately clear to me whether the decision you speak of provides a muzzle with retroactive effect.

Anyway, your presentation, with the use of words like "immediately", reference to publication which "may be liable to criminal responsibility", and that your client contemplates report to the police, gives the impression of your suggesting that I have published against my better judgment and should now be frightened and ashamed? In light of the various points of time I have referred to above, of the statement on p 1 of the court judgment of April saying "No limitations on the permission for public re-publishing", and of my knowledge, before the judgment, of Mr NN's professional work, I find that your presentation is close to a rather serious and rather unwarranted accusation.

I do in addition know that your chief, lawyer Svein Holden, has earlier on tried to direct Jan-Aage Torp to remove information about the judgment against this client by saying that if not, he would – completely irrelevant in Mr Torp's case – report Mr Torp to the Norwegian Press Complaints Commission. It seems, then, that you are determined that all information, including information on private web pages, is to be removed? Possibly to the advantage of your client, but certainly harmful for child protection victims.

I am also acquainted with the judgment from the Appeal Court, Borgarting Lagmannsrett, to which Mr NN appealed the District Court's judgment. The Appeal Court judgment stems from 21 November 2018. I wonder if the decision of 30 September applied prospectively for the then coming Appeal Court judgment too? The Appeal Court's judgment, as you know, repeats that there are to be "No limitations on the permission for public re-publishing".

All in all it is a bit difficult for me to trust unconditionally your understanding in this case, so I have taken steps to have the decision sent from the Oslo District Court instead. When it arrives, I may have to take judicial advice to have it ascertained whether this decision has both retroactive effect, anticipatory effect (the Appeal Court judgment), and also forbids everyone to mention that Mr NN's powers of assessment in child protection cases is doubted by many families, or indeed forbids the mention of his doubtful professional assessments probably being closely related in content to the fact that a criminal case was brought against him and that he has been sentenced, for actions which are certainly relevant for his ability to judge others.

I am able to comfort you: When these matters have been clarified, I will not wait for 10 months, not even for 5, before I make whatever changes may be necessary in published material on my home page. I am completely aware that official Norway does everything, almost on all fronts, to break the victims of Barnevernet and their helpers down even more, and that the system will very likely favour a man formerly employed by the system. So I do not intend to tilt at windmills

Marianne Haslev Skånland


The expression 'to tilt at windmills' has two meanings. One is 'to fight against a non-existent enemy'. It is certainly not the meaning intended here. The other is 'to fight a fight one cannot win'. That is what is meant here.