The Malta Independent 16 August 2022, Tuesday

Mark Camilleri says education minister withdrew her request for his resignation

Kevin Schembri Orland Thursday, 17 December 2020, 10:51 Last update: about 3 years ago

National Book Council Chairman Mark Camilleri has said that Education Minister Justyne Caruana withdrew her call for his resignation after he apologised for embarrassing her with his foul language.

Camilleri had come under fire over a message exchange he had with one of Yorgen Fenech's lawyers. Fenech stands accused of being the mastermind in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Lawyer Juliette Galea had written on Facebook messenger to Camilleri, saying that he should read a letter sent by Fenech's defence team to a number of entities about the public inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. In the letter in question, they ask a number of entities to suspend the public inquiry. In her message to Camilleri, the lawyer said that he should read the letter and that "it explains how a public inquiry should be done and why it's not judicial. You're saying stupid things." The exchange after this saw Camilleri use harsh language which included certain expletives. This exchange came after Camilleri had uploaded a tweet saying that the inquiry should continue without government interference.

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Camilleri had then been asked to resign by the education ministry and refused, instead calling a National Congress of Writers and Publishers to hold an election for his post. In another tweet on Thursday morning after he said that the minister withdrew her call for his resignation, Camilleri said: "We agreed that the Congress will be postponed, however I still intend to open the call for the head of the Book Council unto the Congress because this issue needs to be settled once and for all. I also have no doubt I would be ahead given the support I received."

He was contacted by the Malta Independent just prior to his tweets regarding the withdrawal of his resignation request by the education minister. Asked what brought on his decision to publish the chat with the lawyer, Camilleri said: "They (the lawyers) are trying to influence everyone to put Yorgen Fenech in a good light, trying to pressure and lobby with everyone to present their narrative. The government seems to be taking a position against the public inquiry, which is the same position as Fenech's lawyers, which is bad. The public inquiry must be left alone to conduct its work independently." This is in reference to the government's statement that the public inquiry board will need to shoulder responsibility for its decision to extend beyond the deadline.

Told that there are people who believe he was harsh in his comments, given that the lawyer was just doing her job, he said: "even I am doing my job."

This newsroom highlighted that the argument being made is that he occupies the position of the Chairman of the National Book Council and as such should not be as harsh in his statements, asking what he thought about such arguments. "Maybe the only reason I need to control myself is as i respect my colleagues, but aside from that there is nothing wrong in using harsh words to make a strong point," he said.

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