Finnish minister in trouble over text messages to dancer

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland’s foreign minister faced calls for his resignation on Saturday after a tabloid newspaper published a suggestive text message he had sent to an erotic dancer.

Ilkka Kanerva sent about 200 text messages to Johanna Tukiainen, 29, and at first said they were related to her performing at his 60th birthday party.

On Friday he admitted the messages were not totally appropriate.

“I would not present them in Sunday School, but they are not totally out of line either,” the daily Helsingin Sanomat quoted him as saying.

The Ilta-Sanomat daily said that in one of the messages Kanerva had asked Tukiainen: “Would you like to do it in an exotic place? Where could it be?”

When Kanerva was asked whether ‘it’ referred to sex, he only said it was obvious that his message was an answer to an earlier question, Finnish News Agency STT said.

Fellow parliamentarian Tuija Nurmi, also of the conservative party, has said Kanerva should resign, and opposition leader Eero Heinaluoma said the situation cannot continue as it is now.

Conservative Party chairman Jyrki Katainen said he had confidence in Kanerva but his actions had been rash.

Finnish TV station MTV3 said it had heard from unnamed sources that Kanerva’s party has been preparing for his resignation. Kanerva insisted he would stay in his job.

Tukiainen, who has posed nude in magazines and is the leader of the Scandinavian Dolls erotic dance troupe, first sold the text messages to Hymy magazine, and then sought a court injunction to stop their publication. A Helsinki court rejected the request.

The magazine said it would publish the messages in its next issue, due to be released on Wednesday.

Kanerva’s longstanding partner has said she has accepted his apology over the matter.

This is not the first time Kanerva has been in trouble over his mobile phone use. In 2005, when he was the deputy speaker of parliament, he bombarded two models with text messages.

Reporting by Sakari Suoninen; Editing by Giles Elgood