Bullying complaint against Polish ambassador to Iceland

10.09.2020 - 11:03
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Margrét Adamsdóttir, a former staff member at the Polish embassy in Reykjavík, has filed a complaint with the Polish foreign ministry, saying she was the victim of bullying by the ambassador. She says it started when she shared a photograph of herself online taking part in the Reykjavík Pride parade around a year ago. The foreign ministry in Warsaw is now investigating the complaint and the Reykjavík embassy will not comment while that investigation is ongoing.

Margrét was Ambassador Gerard Pokruszyński’s secretary from 1st March 2019 until the end of last month, having tendered her resignation earlier this summer—a decision she describes as difficult: “I thought it out for a long time and it was difficult to take, because the job itself was very good.”

Not the only one 

Margrét says she was not the only member of staff to face bullying by the ambassador. In her particular case, she says it started with her photo from Pride: “He said that I, as an embassy employee, needed to be careful to not damage his or the embassy’s reputation.” 

Margrét says she responded to the comment by saying she did not feel it was a political act to take part in the pride parade. The ambassador countered that the case was extremely political and asked her not to share similar photographs again, or express her opinions on it. 

It was at this point that the ambassador’s manner and behaviour changed, according to Margrét. She says he accidentally sent an email to all staff in which he complained about her and expressed a wish for her to be replaced. “And when I saw that, I was very humiliated. I felt really bad. I cried a lot and suffered anxiety. I couldn’t envisage working under those conditions any longer,” Margrét says. 

Attention in Poland 

The case has been covered in Polish media, following an interview this summer with Margrét in Stundin. Margrét says she has not heard from the ambassador since leaving the embassy, though she says she believes he has been in touch with one of her family members, saying she does not know why but finds it uncomfortable. “It is unbelievably difficult for me and unbelievably unfair because my family has nothing to do with this case or my work at the embassy,” she says. 

Margrét has reported the ambassador to the Polish foreign ministry, which is now investigating. RÚV asked for a response from the embassy, but the request was refused, at least until the investigagtion finishes. The matter has even come up in parliament, with Krzysztof Smiszek, an MP for the left-wing Lewika party, submitting a formal question to foreign minister Zbigniew Rau on Monday, which he has three weeks to answer. 

Margrét says she gave a lot of thought to whether she should talk publicly. “It was a really difficult decision for me to talk about this. I didn’t want to talk about it. But when I saw that none of my other colleagues would, or could, maybe because they still work there or have some other circumstances for not being able to talk about this, I thought that maybe I had the least to lose. Though maybe it will later transpire that I lose a great deal,” Margrét ponders. 

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Alexander Elliott
Project manager
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