Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has deleted daily text messages for years, de Volkskrant writes. He is said to have deleted the messages due to the limited storage space on his phone and had the messages he himself considered relevant archived by his officials.
The fact that the prime minister regularly deleted text messages from his phone came to light in a lawsuit filed by de Volkskrant. In 2020, the newspaper had asked for text messages about the corona policy that the prime minister had sent and received on the basis of the Open Government Act. However, the documents that were eventually made available by the Ministry of General Affairs only contain messages that Rutte had sent to his own officials for archiving. In some cases, these were forwarded messages from people who had contacted the prime minister.
De Volkskrant found the correspondence ‘limited’ and ‘unbelievable’, especially because it later turned out that text messages were never searched for in Rutte’s phone. In addition, according to the Archives Act job-related correspondence may not be destroyed just like that. Text messages may also fall under that law.
A new search attempt in the telephone is pointless, according to the Landsadvocaat. The device would only have room for twenty messages. As a result, the prime minister had to empty the inbox daily. Rutte had a phone with more storage, but he only used it to follow the news, says the State Attorney. The Prime Minister received a new device from the Government Information Service on Thursday, because ‘the previous telephone was not sufficiently supported in all countries’. Since then, Rutte would no longer delete his messages on a daily basis.
The State Attorney says that there is ‘no reason to assume that Rutte’s real-time archiving has gone wrong’. De Volkskrant points out, however, that the Wob documents do not contain a text message from Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema, who would have sent a message to the prime minister on June 1, 2020 at 8.30 pm during problems at a corona demonstration. Before that it appeared that a text message from Unilever CEO Paul Polman about the abolition of the dividend tax had disappeared.