The Malta Independent 24 September 2017, Sunday

Updated: Lawyer hits out at PN, says party denied him fair hearing on freemason role

Julian Bonnici Thursday, 14 September 2017, 13:02 Last update: about 9 days ago

A lawyer who has been prohibited from voting in the Nationalist Party leadership election on orders from the party secretary general after he admitted to having been a freemason has hit out at the PN, saying he was denied the chance to explain his position.

In a letter sent to the PN’s electoral commission, Arthur Azzopardi lambasted caretaker PN Secretary General Rosette Thake, along with the party structure and the electoral commission itself for denying him the right to fair hearing.

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Azzopardi was barred from voting in the PN leadership election on orders from Thake.

Azzopardi said that he would be holding “all the members of the Electoral Commission, along with the Nationalist Party, personally responsible for any damages that I may suffer,” in a letter addressed to Joe Borg, the head of the commission.

He went on to say that he discovered that he was no longer eligible to vote through the media, since the party itself did not inform about the decision.

Azzopardi said he was puzzled by the decision, especially considering that he had been asked by the “highest officials in the party” to run in the general election which took place last June.

The PN decision was based on an article published in Lovin’ Malta, were Azzopardi says he was honest regarding his past involvement with a Maltese Freemasonry lodge.

He further explained that in the article he clarified that he was dismissed from the lodge for pushing for an amendment on the organisation’s stature on secrecy and the inclusion of women as members.

He also insisted that he had stopped attending in 2011.

Thake, Azzopardi said, was “abusing her position as Secretary General” because “if the PN genuinely believed in the moral obligation and principles of natural justice and rule of law” it would respect his right to a fair hearing and take a decision after consulting him for his version of events and clarifying the party’s position.

Azzopardi said that in the circumstances, the Secretary General is guilty of breaking a number of principles of natural justice, and has violated his rights that are enshrined in the Maltese Constitution.

“I am asking the electoral commission to not take my vote away from me for the upcoming election unless the natural process of hearing my version of events takes place.”

Azzopardi  went on to table a number of questions towards the Nationalist Party:

- How is my membership with the party of national interest?

- Where in the statute does it state that the Secretary General has the power to make her decisions public?

- Why is the party treating me differently from other members who were disciplined in the past?

- Why is the party discriminating me?

- Why is the party acting this way towards me when a few months ago the highest officials asked me to contest the general election?

- Has the party forgotten that in the last general election, I was asked to give my views in favour of the party itself, the way Simon Busuttil operated, and against the Labour Party, when it came at a personal sacrifice?

- The Secretary General acted in an arbitrary manner and ordered the party to act differently in my regard when the party acted differently with others who had similar situations. Why am I different from the other persons?

Azzopardi also reminded the party that he was not and is not a candidate for party leadership, a councillor, or a party official, nor did he have any aspiration to have a role in the party.

 

Azzopardi is representing PN leadership candidate Adrian Delia in five libel cases he instituted against Daphne Caruana Galizia over claims she made on her blog.

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