The Malta Independent 15 April 2021, Thursday

James Caterers breached parliamentary privilege with threatening letter sent to NAO - Speaker

Monday, 8 March 2021, 16:57 Last update: about 2 months ago

James Caterers breached parliamentary privilege when it threatened to take legal action against the National Audit Office, Speaker Anglu Farrugia has ruled.

Last week, Auditor General Charles Deguara accused the catering company of trying to intimidate the NAO and influence an investigation into a controversial contract at the St Vincent de Paul facility.

In a letter sent to the NAO in February, the company warned that it could hold the NAO officers personally responsible for any reputational arising from the investigation into the two tenders.

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After receiving the auditor’s letter, the chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, Beppe Fenech Adami, said it was now up to the Speaker to decide whether the company’s letter constituted breach of privilege or contempt of parliamentary proceedings.

Delivering a ruling on Monday, Speaker Farrugia noted that, through its lawyers, James Caterers had said that it never meant to hinder the investigation but was just trying to defend its reputation. The company said the contracts were above board and any decision otherwise would tarnish its reputation. It also expressed willingness to cooperate.

While noting the company’s explanatory letter, the Speaker found that its letter of 17 February had breached privilege.

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