The Malta Independent 12 May 2021, Wednesday

Standards Committee agrees to publish report on Carmelo Abela’s ethics breach

Wednesday, 14 April 2021, 17:37 Last update: about 27 days ago

The Committee of Standards in Public Life has decided to publish the report by the Standards Commissioner, which looked into a reported ethics breach by Minister Carmelo Abela over his alleged use of public funds to pay for newspaper adverts promoting himself. 

They also agreed that The Standards Commissioner appear before the Committee during the next meeting to answer questions.

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The PL and PN MPs on the Committee had a back and forth over allegations by the PL MPs that the report had previously been leaked to Newsbook.

The Speaker said that after he received the complaint by the PL MPs, he asked the Standards Commissioner, who said there was no leak on his part. 

Both PL MPs and PN MPs denied leaking anything. He also read out a letter by the Standards Commissioner regarding the issue, who had said that he does not believe there was any leak to begin with.

The Commissioner also spoke about how the procedure works in his letter. He noted that he presents reports on three kinds of cases to the Committee: cases in which he found no breach of ethics; cases in which he found a breach of ethics but it was remedied through action taken with his agreement; and cases in which he found a breach that could not be remedied in this manner. Reports on the first two types of cases are published by the Commissioner and referred to the Committee for information purposes only. Reports on the third type of case were referred to the Committee for its further consideration, and it was the Committee that decided on the publication of such reports. The Commissioner pointed out that this procedure was resulting in the suppression of case reports. This was creating unnecessary polemics, went against the principle of transparency, and had no basis in law. The Commissioner took the view that he should have the responsibility to decide on the publication of his own reports, as did the National Audit Office and the Ombudsman.

This was briefly touched upon by the committee, although it, as of this moment, does not appear as though procedure will change.


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