Michał Dworczyk advised how to “postpone” answering the “pile of questions” about the passenger lists of Mateusz Morawiecki’s flights and considered a refusal based on “stretched legal expertise” – it follows from the e-mails that are to come from the mailbox of the head of the prime minister’s office. an e-mail scandal since June, Journalists of the tvn24.pl portal, dealing with the topic of flights of the most important people in the country, have experienced how the press services can “play against time”.
August 5, 2019, Sejm. Marshal Marek Kuchciński admits that he made 23 flights with his family in a government plane. This is a reaction to the scandal disclosed by the media, called “Air Kuchciński”, which was the main topic of summer 2019, a few months before the autumn parliamentary elections. Kuchciński quibbles, but stays in the position.
He then emphasizes that his wife was on one of the flights aboard the government aircraft, but states that “it was not a flight ordered specifically for this purpose”.
August 6. The tvn24.pl portal reveals a document that contradicts the words of a PiS politician. It shows that the marshal’s wife was entered as the only passenger in the “additional flight”.
August 8. Kuchciński at the PiS headquarters, accompanied by the president of this party, Jarosław Kaczyński, announces his resignation from the function of the Speaker of the Sejm, which happens the day after.
However, the resignation does not end the matter, because the topic arouses emotions and public interest. Journalists ask more questions and reveal that other PiS politicians also took friends and family on board of government planes.
September 4, 2019 In the evening on the tvn24.pl portal and in the program “Black on the White” We disclose documents which show that Prime Minister Morawiecki used government planes to shoot a film with himself in the lead role, while the most flights – over 600 – were made by the president, who repeatedly flew to his residence in Jurata under HEAD status.
Dworczyk advises on how not to respond to the media
Also September 4, 2019but in the morning – as the e-mails published on the website revealing the correspondence supposed to come from Michał Dworczyk’s mailbox – the head of the prime minister’s office alerts him about the media’s interest in his flights. At that time, an election campaign was underway – elections were held on October 19.
“Beloved, we are overwhelmed with the pile of MP and journalistic questions about the lists of people accompanying the State Museum at Majdanek [premierowi Mateuszowi Morawieckiemu – red.] in flights. It is a political decision, “Dworczyk reportedly wrote, proposing several ways to solve the problem.
1. We can give it 2. Postpone – (information processing, etc.) and give it after the election 3. Don’t give it, relying on stretched legal expertise – GDPR, etc. 4. Maybe someone has a different idea?
– was to write a PiS politician suggesting option number two.
Tomasz Matynia, the head of the Government Information Center, was to write back to the head of the Prime Minister’s office, who said:
Version 2 is the best. There is no topic. If they accuse us, we will answer that the GDPR, SOP and ABW do not allow.
Prime Minister Morawiecki was supposed to respond to this exchange of e-mails by his closest associates by writing “OK”.
The Prime Minister’s office is postponing the deadline for the response
The “collapse” of the prime minister’s office “with a pile of journalistic questions” is the result of, inter alia, journalists of the tvn24.pl portal, who from the end of July to the beginning of September tried to get answers to questions about the prime minister’s flights.
The reply sent to us by the Government Information Center managed by Matynia shows that already in August the prime minister’s press services avoided answering questions and tried to “play against time”.
On July 30, we asked the Government Information Center, among others about how many of the flights on government aircraft with the participation of the Prime Minister involved foreign visits, how many took place on domestic routes and what was the official purpose that justified the use of the government aircraft in accordance with the HEAD instructions.
HEAD status is granted by the decision of the commander of the State Protection Service and, as a rule, applies to all flights where the president, prime minister, marshal of the Sejm or Senate is on board the aircraft.
We also asked CIR about the cases of the use of planes by the Prime Minister’s office for flights without Mateusz Morawiecki on board. We asked for information about passengers – both holding public offices and their family members.
On the same day we got a laconic answer from CIR:
“We would like to inform you that due to the scope of the data and their detail it is not possible to reply to the editor within 24 hours. We will answer your questions as soon as possible, no longer than 14 days. ”
On August 13, another e-mail came from CIR, in which it was emphasized that the list of Morawiecki’s flights was on the website of the Prime Minister’s office (in response to media publications, the list of the head of the government’s flights was included there – ed.).
“As for the rest of the Editor’s questions, we would like to inform you that we will reply as soon as possible in accordance with Art. 13 sec. 2 of the law on access to public information “- stressed the press service of the prime minister.
The article referred to allows, in justified cases, to provide a reply within more than two weeks, but “no later than 2 months from the date of submitting the application”.
To this day, we have not received a complete answer to the questions asked at that time.
CIR: Please be advised that we are in the process of collecting information
While waiting for a response, on August 5, 2019, we asked CIR how long the Chancellery of the Prime Minister keeps passenger lists for flights it holds and whether they are destroyed after that time.
The answer came on August 23. The Government Information Center explained that the Prime Minister’s office “is obliged to keep this documentation for at least 5 years, and after that period it may be destroyed”.
On August 5, we also asked CIR for information on the passenger list of several government flights, carried out in September 2018.
On August 20, we received the answer:
“Please be advised that we are collecting information that will allow us to respond as soon as possible.”
A week later – on August 27 – the press services of the head of government informed that “no flights were carried out within the limit of the air raid granted to the Chancellery of the Prime Minister on the date given by us”.
The register is not entirely public
Three days later – on August 30 – the Sejm adopted the law on flights of the most important people in the country, which was to ensure transparency after the scandal with Marek Kuchciński’s flights.
The bill was piloted by the head of the prime minister’s office. – It is based on three pillars: transparency, clear rules and responsibility – Dworczyk explained at the press conference.
Already on the date of entry into force of the provisions on the HEAD flight register, May 4, 2020, we asked the government to “provide data on flights of aircraft with HEAD status from the date the register was created to the date of (editing) the answer, i.e. the dates of flights, take-off, landing and stopping places, first and last names of passengers with an indication of which category they belong to “.
Two days later, an e-mail from officials came with the information that the data from the register would be disclosed upon a written request submitted to the head of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister. Thus, such a request must be addressed only to him.
Application only to the head of the prime minister’s office
So we changed the addressee of our application and instead of to the Government Information Center, we sent it to the head of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister on August 4, 2020. We didn’t get a reply, so we were reminded by another email on August 24th.
In the absence of any answer, we contacted the CIR almost every day and each time we heard that “we must be patient“We also tried to contact Michał Dworczyk directly. His assistant answered, assuring the minister that she told the minister about the matter we were calling. We also discussed this matter several times with the government spokesman, Piotr Mueller, at the beginning of September.
After our efforts, it was not until September 10, i.e. 37 days after submitting the formal application, that the Chancellery of the Prime Minister sent us a list of HEAD flights, but only those that were flown by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. It was a comparison of 26 flights: from April 16 to August 6.
In the text published at that time, we identified all the prime minister’s travel destinations. All flights were related to his duties. As the list shows, Morawiecki only took members of the delegation (usually employees of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister) and journalists on board.
Classification “for the sake of the state’s interest”
It is not known, however, whether the list is complete – the act gives the head of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister the possibility to classify individual flights “for the sake of the state’s interest or the safety of passengers”.
On September 23, 2021, on the website where the alleged e-mails of Michał Dworczyk are published, there was an entry entitled “Interesting government flights”, which included a file with data on government aircraft flights from the end of 2015 to July 2019. Due to the short time since this publication, we are unable to verify that the information provided therein is correct.
– I will consistently repeat that we will not comment on the information that appears in these channels, because they are the subject of a disinformation fight – government spokesman Piotr Mueller said on Thursday, when asked to confirm the authenticity of the message in which Michał Dworczyk was supposed to look for an answer for journalists on flights.
Main photo source: Tomasz Gzell / PAP