Government justified its refusal to send the TAP commission of enquiry the legal opinions that backed the resignation of the airline's former CEO with the need to "safeguard the public interest".
Portugal’s minister of the presidency, Mariana Vieira da Silva, said on Tuesday that the government would deliver documentation to the parliamentary commission of enquiry into the management of TAP and the recent resignations at the airline “in the coming days”.
The government “has a new request [from the commission of enquiry] and will respond in the coming days, delivering a series of documents, safeguarding what needs to be safeguarded, at a time when there will be a conflict and the state has to defend its interest,” said Mariana Vieira da Silva on RTP’s “Tudo é Economia” television programme.
Asked about the controversy in recent days over the existence or not of a legal opinion on the dismissal of the chairwoman of TAP’s executive board, Christine Ourmières-Widener, and the chairman of the board of directors of TAP, Manuel Beja, the minister considered that it was “purely a question of semantics”.
“That a whole discussion should be made around the word ‘opinion’ or contributions or support is something that is completely beyond me. […] It’s a question of language. If I had said ‘legal support’, no discussion would be taking place”, said Mariana Vieira da Silva.
She added: “There is no formal opinion, but there are documents that are produced by the government centre that has the duty to provide legal support. It is a purely semantic issue in this alleged divergence.”
The finance minister announced the government’s decision to dismiss Christine Ourmières-Widener and Manuel Beja, citing just cause, on March 6, based on a report by the Inspectorate General of Finance (IGF) over the payment of €500,000 to former director Alexandra Reis to leave the company.
On 19 April, the government justified its refusal to send the TAP commission of enquiry the legal opinions that backed the resignation of the airline’s former CEO with the need to “safeguard the public interest”.
On the same day, heard by the Economy and Finance Committee of the Portuguese parliament, the minister of the presidency, Mariana Vieira da Silva, said that “the requests made are all for facts that happened after the parliamentary commission of enquiry” into the management of TAP, “are outside its scope”.
“Furthermore, as a legal opinion is at issue, we believe that the defence of the public interest and the interests of the state in this matter benefit from being able to not make public a set of information in this matter,” she added.
The following day, heard in the parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee, Finance Minister Fernando Medina said, “There is no opinion, the idea that was created that there would be an opinion… There is no additional opinion other than what is the basis of the justification for the dismissal, which is more than sufficient for those who read it, regarding the opinion of the IGF.”