The Malta Independent 14 October 2019, Monday

Jonathan Ferris requests recusal of judge hearing case against principal permanent secretary

Tuesday, 9 October 2018, 16:36 Last update: about 2 years ago

Lawyers for former police Inspector Jonathan Ferris have requested the recusal of the judge hearing his civil case against the Principal Permanent Secretary and the External Whistleblower unit.

The case, filed against the Principal Permanent Secretary and External Whistleblower Unit officer Philip Massa, follows a judicial protest in which Ferris claims the Unit had repeatedly moved the goalposts to derail his application for Whistleblower protection.

Ferris, a former police inspector with the Economic Crimes Unit, had been fired from a new post at the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit not long after joining the unit. He claims that this happened because he dug too deep in his investigations into government corruption allegations. Ferris insists that the termination of his employment was illegal and abusive and the result of ministerial interference.

When the case was called this morning before judge Grazio Mercieca, Ferris’ lawyer, Jason Azzopardi, informed the presiding magistrate that he had been briefed by his client to request the abstention of the judge.

“This request is being made with no shadow of a doubt being cast upon your integrity. But justice must be seen to be done,” Dr Azzopardi explained. “This is a question of objective impartiality not subjective impartiality.”

Dr Victoria Buttigieg from the AG’s Office, opposed the request on the grounds that Azzopardi had not stated the reason upon which he was basing the challenge.

“In these circumstances we feel that the request should be denied,” she said.

“I was loyal to the court. I did not expound upon my reason but I am prepared to explain further. This request is not capricious,” Azzopardi continued, reminding that his client had filed the case when denied whistleblower status after claiming to possess information regarding “corruption allegations in the highest corridors of the State.”

Judge Mercieca granted Ferris 15 days within which to file his request in writing and a further 15 days for the respondents to file their reply. The case was adjourned for final oral submissions in December.  



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