The Malta Independent 16 December 2019, Monday

Court stops government from dismissing diplomat

Malta Independent Wednesday, 24 September 2014, 14:48 Last update: about 6 years ago

The First Hall of the Civil Court this morning stopped the government from dismissing Dr Antoinette Cutajar from her job as a diplomat in the public service.

The decision was taken by Madam Justice Edwina Grima after Dr Cutajar submitted a request for a prohibitory injunction against the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, Foreign Minister George Vella, the principal permanent secretary Mario Cutajar and the Attorney General.

In handing down its decision, the court said Dr Cutajar had been employed on an indefinite contract and the government could not unilaterally dismiss her. Furthermore, the court was perplexed at how the government could want to engage Dr Cutajar with a company specifically set up for former dockyard and shipbuilding workers. She had not been employed by either of these two companies and one could not say that her government job had become superfluous.

The court heard how Dr Cutajar had been intimidated continuously since January 2014 and the government had threatened to sack her unless she signed a contract with IPSL. Dr Cutajar had refused to be dismissed and insisted that she was employed on an indefinite contract with the Foreign Affairs Ministry since 2007.

The government had argued that Dr Cutajar had been employed on the basis of trust by the previous administration and not by public call. The diplomat, however, said that in 2007 a European Commission directive was issued requiring all those who had been employed on a year-on-year contractual basis for more than four years to be given an indefinite contract.

The administration at the time applied this to all its employees, including herself.

The court ordered the government not to dismiss Dr Cutajar and not to change any of her conditions. Lawyer Karol Aquilina appeared for Dr Cutajar. 

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