Ruusunen and her publisher Kari Ojala are being charged with violation of privacy for the kiss-and-tell exposé Pääministerin Morsian (The Prime Minister’s Bride), in which Ruusunen discloses many private details about her relationship with Vanhanen.
The Prime Minister filed charges against the publisher of the book in March 2007, just after the Parliamentary elections.
Vanhanen in court
In the Helsinki District Court on Friday, Vanhanen said that the salacious details in the book were not relevant to the public interest and therefore not appropriate for publication.
Ruusunen feels sorry
Ruusunen was heard after the Prime Minister had left the court
building. She and Vanhanen didn‘t exchange words in the
‘I never meant to harm anyone,’ Ruusunen said sobbing. ’I would have wanted to apologize in Matti’s presence.’
She claimed publisher Ojala ‘wanted sex and politics in the book’ and that she did not know in advance how much of the detail would actually end up being published.
She said that she had been worried in advance if such a book was legal, but that Ojala had told her several times that they didn’t need to get advice on the matter because he had 30 years of experience in the field.
Ruusunen said that her judgement had failed her and that she now regrets that private text messages she had received from the Prime Minister ended up in the book. She said that she regrets making the book and that she was not satisfied with the end result.
She also agreed with Vanhanen’s remark that the book was not relevant to the public interest.
The publisher’s defence
Kari Ojala, the publisher of the exposé, maintained that both Vanhanen and Ruusunen were fully aware of the graphic details that were going to be published.
The PM didn’t seek any damages from his ex girlfriend personally when he filed the charges. From publisher Ojala, on the other hand, he wants 1,000 euros in damages. The prosecuter, however, is calling for Ruusunen to pay a minimum of 7,000 euros. For the publisher, the Prosecutor is seeking heavy fines of at least 50,000 euros.
The court case is seen as setting a precedent in the debate on public figures’ rights to privacy. A verdict in the case is expected on the 5th of March.
Matti & Susan, Matti & Merja
Matti Vanhanen en Susan Ruusunen (then Kuronen) had a brief relationship in 2006, lasting a little over six months. In April 2005, Vanhanen and his wife Merja had announced their separation after 20 years of marriage. They officially filed for divorce in February 2006.
Matti Vanhanen is not known to be in a relationship at the moment. His former wife Merja, who works as a fight attendant and as a local representative for Vanhanen’s Centre Party, recently went engaged. They have two teenage children.
The court case in the news:
Vanhanen-Kuronen court case begins – Helsingin Sanomat International Edition (Finland)
Prime Minister defends right to privacy in court case – YLE News (Finland)
Finnish PM sues over kiss-and-tell – The Independent (UK)
The book in the news:
Finnish PM improves his prospects with deft handling of a hot potato – The Guardian (UK)
Ex-Lover's book no hot potato for Finland's Prime Minister – The Australian (Australia)
Pääministerin Morsian (in Finnish)
The story's main characters:
Merja Vanhanen – Parliamentary elections website (in Finnish)