Member of Parliament Wille Rydman has announced his resignation from the opposition National Coalition Party's (NCP's) parliamentary group until further notice, following a newspaper report of a police investigation into his behaviour towards several women.
In an NCP press release, the party stated that Rydman made the decision to resign after talks with party leader Petteri Orpo and chair of the parliamentary group Kai Mykkänen.
There was consensus in the meeting that Rydman's resignation was the correct decision, Orpp told Yle.
"I myself had a firm conviction that this was the way to go, as did the chair of the parliamentary group," Orpo said. "It was good that MP Rydman saw it in the same way, that these things really need to be sorted out now. He agreed with this conclusion."
Rydman's resignation is "indefinite", meaning it is for an unspecified period of time, with the party noting that the decision may be revisited if the outcome of any future investigation restores confidence in Rydman.
"There is a huge lack of confidence, but also a lot of unresolved issues," Orpo said.
For the time being, Rydman will also resign from the positions to which he has been elected by the NCP's parliamentary group, such as committee seats.
Would you like a roundup of the week's top stories in your inbox every Thursday? Then sign up to receive our weekly email!
Orpo: Legal and moral aspects must be clarified
According to NCP party leader Orpo, there are two separate aspects to the Rydman case: what has happened from a legal point of view and then from the moral and political perspective, which he said must also be assessed.
"That's what we will do within the parliamentary group and within the party," he said, adding that an internal party review could determine whether Rydman could return to the parliamentary group.
Police: No new evidence
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) began looking into Rydman in 2020 after a 17-year-old girl contacted a sex victim helpline, saying she had faced sexual violence by a political figure.
She also told the helpline that the same politician had been harassing girls aged 14 to 17 over a ten-year period, leading police to eventually interview nine women.
However, the NBI's preliminary investigation found that none of the events described by the women crossed the threshold warranting further investigation.
The NCP had requested that authorities re-investigate the case, but the police have stated that no new evidence has yet come to light that would warrant reopening the investigation.
Rydman declined an interview request by Yle on Tuesday, saying he would not be speaking to the media about the matter.
Rydman allegations "shocked" NCP party members
On Sunday, Helsingin Sanomat published an article containing claims by several women that Rydman used his political position to gain access to young women and girls. Among his various positions, Rydman chaired the NCP's youth wing.
Rydman vehemently denied the allegations made by Helsingin Sanomat both in the article itself and via his own blog.
However, several members of the NCP party have described the details about Rydman's alleged behaviour contained in the HS article as "shocking", with party chair Orpo noting the potential scale, detail and seriousness of the case.
Speaking on Yle TV1's A-Studio current affairs programme on Monday evening, NCP party secretary Kristiina Kokko said that Helsinki City Council will meet on Wednesday to discuss Rydman's case, as he is vice-chair of the council.