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Helsinki city councillor apologises for false story about abusive taxi passenger

The SDP politician told daily Helsingin Sanomat that he had circulated an untrue story because he "was angry".

Abdirahim Hussein Image: Petra Ristola / Yle
Yle News

Social Democratic Party politician and Helsinki city councillor Abdirahim "Husu" Hussein has admitted to fabricating a story about removing a passenger from his taxi after being verbally attacked.

On Monday Hussein retracted his story and apologised for lying. He wrote in a tweet that as a decision-maker he should act honestly and acknowledged that he had betrayed voters’ trust.

"I apologise for my actions and for lying. As a decision-maker it is my duty to be honest. I depend on my voters’ trust and I have now broken that trust. I shall do everything I can to restore trust in my actions," Hussein said.

"The [SDP] council group will decide on disciplinary action and I will accept the consequences," he added. Yle was not able to reach Hussein for comment.

SDP council group to discuss case

Deputy chair of the SDP Helsinki city council group Ville Jalovaara said that Hussein’s case will be discussed in the days ahead. He declined to comment further.

Council group chair Eveliina Heinäluoma did not respond when Yle tried to reach her. However she did take to Twitter on Monday to say that she was "extremely disappointed".

"I am extremely disappointed in the actions of our council group member Husu. A person in a position of responsibility should act with the dignity required of the position. We will discuss the matter in our next council group meeting," she tweeted.

About one week ago, Hussein tweeted about an incident in which he claimed that he had stopped along a motorway to order a verbally abusive passenger to leave his taxi. He later modified the story to clarify that he left the passenger at a bus stop and not at the roadside.

At the time Hussein wrote that among other things, the passenger told him to go back to Somalia to defend his country. Later, in a blog post, Hussein provided additional details about the incident and described the individual as asking about his background and reasons for being in Finland.

On Monday Hussein told daily Helsingin Saonmat that while he did have "a man behaving in a racist manner" in his taxi, he did not remove the passenger from the vehicle. He said that he tweeted about the incident to spark discussion about the harassment that taxi drivers face.

"I wrote the tweet on Sunday because I was angry," he said.

Story falls apart under scrutiny

Hussein’s taxi operator, Taksi Helsinki, said it had looked into the incident and found that his story did not match up with GPS data from the taxi. On Monday, the firm tweeted that no passengers had been asked to leave a taxi.

"In response to questions relating to Husu’s claim we confirm that based on an investigation, no one was abandoned and no passenger was removed from a ride. The matter has been discussed with Husu and the matter has been dealt with in this respect."

In addition to speaking with the councillor, the taxi firm also referred the matter to its quality committee for consideration of possible follow-up measures.

"We do not accept inappropriate behaviour and Husu's actions will be reviewed by our quality committee, which will consider additional measures," it tweeted.

Daily Helsingin Sanomat was the first to report on the taxi firm’s probe.

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