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Ex-PM's lover loses European court appeal over tell-all book

The European Court of Human Rights has rejected an appeal by the author and publisher of a kiss-and-tell book by a girlfriend of ex-prime minister Matti Vanhanen. They claimed that a Finnish high court ruling against them was an infringement of their freedom of expression.

Susan Ruusunen
Image: Yle

In a judgement handed down on Tuesday, the Council of Europe's court in Strasbourg, France, said that The Prime Minister's Bride, a spicy tell-all book about former premier Matti Vanhanen did indeed violate his right to privacy.

Susan Ruusunen dated Matti Vanhanen for nine months while he was in office. The relationship began as Vanhanen divorced his wife of 21 years, with whom he had two children.

Ruusunen published her memoir in 2007, mid-way through his seven-year stint as PM. According to the court's statement, in it she revealed details "of the couple's sex life and intimate moments together".

Later that year, authorities filed charges against Ruusunen and the book's publisher, Kari Ojala, for disclosing information about the prime minister's private life.

Pulled from the shelves

The publisher withdrew the book from the market in early 2008. Soon afterwards, a court dismissed charges against the writer and publisher -- but this decision was then overturned on appeal.

In mid-2010 the Finnish Supreme Court convicted Ojala and Ruusunen of violating Vanhanen's personal privacy. They took the case to the European court, complaining that the ruling violated their right to freedom of expression -- an appeal that was dismissed on Monday.

Soon after the Finnish high court ruling, Vanhanen resigned citing health problems -- but overshadowed by a string of corruption allegations involving his Centre Party. Now 58, he keeps a low profile as head of the Finnish Family Firms Association.

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