The Malta Independent 29 February 2024, Thursday
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Watch: Film Commissioner ‘has nothing to hide’, but question not answered

Sabrina Zammit Friday, 15 September 2023, 17:16 Last update: about 7 months ago

Malta Film Commissioner Johann Grech said Friday the agency he leads has nothing to hide, but then failed to answer why the commission has taken the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation to court to stop it from obtaining information regarding payment given David Walliams for participating in the 2022 Malta Film Awards.

The Malta Film Commissioner has resorted to the civil courts to deny the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation access to information that has already been found to be in the public interest, the foundation said earlier this week.

The Malta Film Commissioner has asked the court to annul a ruling by the Information and Data Protection Commissioner (IDPC) and to revoke a decision by the Information and Data Protection Tribunal that upholds the IDPC’s ruling, the foundation said in a statement Wednesday.

The case concerns a freedom of information request filed in January last year for the amount of public money paid to David Walliams for participating in the 2022 Malta Film Awards. In the freedom of information request, the Malta Film Commission had been asked for all invoices it received from Walliams, or his agents or associated companies or individuals, or on their behalf, in connection with the event.

The commission has refused to divulge the information and, following the IDPC and Data Protection rulings, has resorted to court action in an attempt to overturn the decision.

The commission is now also being investigated by the Auditor General, on the request of the Nationalist Party. The National Audit Office is investigating the expenditure of €137 million by the Commission on foreign organisations between September 2018 and August 2023.

Asked why the commission was behaving like a secret agency and was reluctant to provide information, Grech said the commission had nothing to hide, but rather than answering the question, he then spoke about how more people were joining the industry.

When pressured as to why the information about the payment to Walliams was not being made public, Grech said that he was going to reply but again said how the commission was seeking the recruitment of more people because of the success of the industry.

“We have nothing to hide,” he said. But he did not reply to the question asked, saying that the industry was one of the economy’s engines.

Asked again whether the payment to Walliams will be made public, Grech said that the commission was abiding by “legal advice”, but would not say what this advice was. That belongs to the commission, he said.

 

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