Councilor Shula Rijxman (Care and Digital City) has Friday AT5 first responded to the controversy surrounding her person. Since her appointment as a councillor, there has been an uproar about the relationship she maintained as NPO director with a top official from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and holiday in 2017 with State Secretary Sander Dekker, who was responsible for public radio at the time. She said she would now report these matters, but is also critical of the reporting: “I keep repeating; it’s fake news if it’s not true.”
All the reporting about her time at NPO has touched her, says Rijxman. “You would be an inhuman if it didn’t affect you. Also because you can’t say anything back because you withdraw for a while. A lot was written about me that wasn’t true. I decided to keep quiet that time and then it hurts. We are a few months longer, there are reports. There is still something coming from the Media Agency, but it is not about me personally. It has been a lot and at the same time I want to continue. I am a councilor with heart and soul, and that’s what I’m focusing on now.”
Apparent conflict of interest
Among other things, Rijxman did not report a relationship with the highest official in the Ministry of Education. An investigation has already concluded that the official has made an incorrect assessment and that this has expressed a conflict of interest. A whistleblower had submitted a report to the official, Marjan Hammersma, about abuse at NPO, but knew nothing about the private relationship between Hammersma and Rijxman. This led to ‘uncertainty’ among the whistleblower, who also said that he or she would never have approached the ministry if he or she had known about the private relationship.
Rijxman now says about this: “Of course I understand the whistleblower. If someone is not safe, it is always annoying. But I also say that not everything written about it is correct. For example, that there would have had conversations where I would have been informed, that’s not the case. Or that I had a love affair with the top OCW official, that was not the case.”
She continues: “I don’t really know anything about the whistleblower because I wasn’t told. No one from the ministry, not even the top official, talked to me about it. I just don’t know what exactly happened there. I always remember not why the person has been in the ministry. If we had known that the person would have felt unsafe, we should have taken more into account.
Rijxman says that according to the formal rules, she did not have to report such private affairs to the NPO. Experts doubt that reading. “If you do, you must report any contact yourself. I have reported it to my supervisors. I understand that it is unsafe for the whistleblower afterwards. I only acted in good conscience at the time.”
And: “I should definitely have asked the organizations in the NPO to see if it was possible. I only looked at the rules, and in hindsight you can of course say that times have changed, it would no longer be good for now. “
Holiday with Dekker
The holiday with Sander Dekker was not at all unpleasant in Rijxman’s eyes. “He was now extroverted. All the legislation, everything that could be arranged in a business-like way, had happened a year before. If you look back in history, Sander and I were quite against each other. Sander did not succeed in eliminating entertainment at in NPO. I fought for that to be preserved.”
According to Rijxman, relationships are simply part of a position as NPO director and now councillor. “I have many relationships, you do in that position, and my successor has them too. I have always used my relationships for the benefit of NPO. I have relationships, and I would not do that differently in the city. There is in the newspaper suggested much. I didn’t do anything wrong. In retrospect, you can say: it would have been better to review it, of which the note.”
A Woo request showed that Rijxman rated the reporting as fake news. I was and who I wanted to be. There was no conflict of interest whatsoever. Everything I did was for NPO. You will have to settle for that. Everything I’m going to do with the people I know will be for the city to be.”
She concludes: “I am also in contact with Ton (Ton F. van Dijk, the journalist who wrote about Rijxman, ed.), I forgot which email you mean. I keep repeating; it’s fake news if it’s not true. You cannot defend yourself against a storm of attacks from PVV in particular, which creates the impression that I have some kind of network with D66. It’s just not true. It’s hard to resist. I just say: all for NPO and all for Amsterdam.”