The Malta Independent 16 April 2024, Tuesday
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Watch: Glenn Bedingfield does not need my permission to write blog – Prime Minister

Neil Camilleri Monday, 22 February 2016, 11:29 Last update: about 9 years ago

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat today said that his adviser Glenn Bedingfield did not need his permission to write a blog – although he is doing so while being paid out of public funds.

Mr Bedingfield has been accused of breaching ethics as he writes political blogs while serving as the PM's adviser. He was appointed as coordinator of parliamentary questions in the Office of the Prime Minister, and some of his blogs are uploaded during office hours.

Dr Muscat was quizzed by journalists after visiting the Mtarfa home for the elderly, where he met with residents. 

Asked whether Mr Bedingfield sought the PM’s approval, Dr Muscat said that he did not need to. Pressed about the fact that Mr Bedingfield is an officer paid by public money who should therefore stay back from writing political blogs insulting the Opposition, Dr Muscat said that the right to freedom of expression applies to everyone.

No problem with police investigating Castille over ‘Gaffarena links’

Replying to another question by this paper, Dr Muscat said he had no problem if the police investigated what the PN calls “links” between Marco Gaffarena and Castille. The Opposition has repeatedly asked why the police have not launched an investigation into these alleged links.

Last week the Nationalist Party handed a letter to police commissioner Michael Cassar requesting him to investigate the links. It says that, from the Auditor General's report, it is clear that the Gaffarena Old Mint Street deal was facilitated heavily by the OPM, and it is the duty of the Commissioner not to "sweep the government's dirt under the carpet".

Dr Muscat told this paper he “never had any problem with any kind of investigation.”

He also told reporters that he had learnt of the scandal from the newspapers and had not discussed the expropriation deal before the last general election.


Equating homosexuality to paedophilia, illness, ‘unacceptable’

Dr Muscat was also asked for a reaction to comments on the gay conversion therapy issue by Archbishop Charles Scicluna, who said the therapy went against human rights and was a “no-go.”

Dr Muscat said he had no problem with people reading the paper and with the Archbishop voicing his opinion. “But I am also voicing my opinion and I think that equating homosexuality with paedophilia and illness is unacceptable in a modern society.”  He pointed out that this was the opinion of a church committee, and not the Church, and insisted that people close to the church had also spoken to him and expressed their scepticism about the paper.

The government will stand up to be counted and will push ahead with this law to ban the therapy and promote progressive and liberal values, he said.   

Asked how he felt that Professor Kevin Aquilina and retired judge Giovanni Bonello formed part of the team behind the report, Dr Muscat said he assumed they looked at the legal aspect of it, with which he had no problem. “I have no problem with the legal aspect but with the fundamental point that equates homosexuality are paedophiles or have an illness or condition.”


PM denies having met Gozo sheep farmer

Dr Muscat also insisted he has never met Gozitan sheep farmer Gianni Attard, who had claimed that the Prime Minister had promised him things but was now ignoring him. A telephone call recording was played in yesterday’s PN event, which was addressed by Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil.

“I have never met Mr Attard and I am informed that he has now confirmed that information himself.”

The PM said Simon Busuttil had made an enormous gaffe when he relied on something without checking the facts.


Judicial appointments

The Prime Minister was also asked about the judicial appointments controversy. He said Justice Minister Owen Bonnici was wrongly quoted by the Times as saying that he was right and the experts were wrong on the nomination of two magistrates.

Dr Muscat said the government had contacted the Times, which would be issuing a clarification to the effect that it had attributed to him words that he did not say.

He also referred to comments by the Dean of the University’s Law Faculty, Professor Kevin Aquilina, who said Court Attorneys are lawyers. Professor Aquilina, Dr Muscat said, was agreeing with Justice Minister Owen Bonnici.

He said that when Caroline Farrugia Frendo is sworn in as magistrate there will be no doubt about her minimum seven years’ experience.










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