The Malta Independent 20 April 2021, Tuesday

Opposition contests Speaker’s ruling which stops Standards committee probe on Joseph Muscat

Wednesday, 13 January 2021, 12:28 Last update: about 4 months ago

The Opposition is contesting Speaker Anġlu Farrugia’s ruling that parliament’s standards committee cannot summon former prime minister Joseph Muscat on the basis that he is no longer a member of parliament.

In a motion presented in parliament, Opposition spokespersons Karol Aquilina and Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici said the ruling rendered the standards committee powerless in the face of individuals accused of obstructing justice and abusing power.

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They said that the ruling failed to honour the spirit of the law.

The motion is in reaction to a ruling handed down on Monday wherein Farrugia ruled that the law precluded the standards committee from taking any action against Muscat because he is no longer an MP.

This came after the committee adopted a report by Standards Commissioner George Hyzler, which found that Muscat abused his power when appointing ex-minister Konrad Mizzi as an MTA consultant on a salary north of 80,000 in December 2019 – only days after Mizzi had resigned from Cabinet.

However, the government MPs on the committee – Edward Zammit Lewis and Byron Camilleri – insisted that it could not summon Muscat or sanction him since he was now a private citizen – an opinion which the Speaker also held.

The Opposition said the Speaker’s ruling gives individuals accused of abuse of power an easy way out to avoid shouldering the burden of political responsibility and allows them to get away scot free.  

The PN MPs said the ruling reinforced the impunity reigning within the highest institutions of the country and added their belief that such a situation is causing great harm to the democratic system.

They said that the ruling falls short of honouring the values and the spirit of the law setting up the Standards Commissioner.

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