The Malta Independent 5 December 2023, Tuesday
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TMID Editorial: The Film Commission’s secrets

Wednesday, 20 September 2023, 10:57 Last update: about 4 months ago

We have nothing to hide, Malta Film Commissioner Johann Grech said.

But then he takes the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation to court to prevent it from obtaining information regarding how much an entertainer was paid for the Malta Film Awards.

Let me answer you, he replied when asked by The Malta Independent about why the commission took this drastic action.


But then he completely disregards the topic of the question and rambles about the success of the film industry in Malta.

All this while with the Tourism Minister, who is politically responsible for the sector, looks on with a wry smile without intervening.

Let’s put matters into context.

The Malta Film Commissioner has taken the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation to court in an attempt to deny it access to information that has been found to be in the public interest. Grech has requested 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 which upholds the IDPC’s ruling. The case is about a freedom of information request filed to find out the amount of public money paid to David Walliams for his appearance at the 2022 Malta Film Awards.

In other words, the institutions responsible for data protection have told the commissioner to tell us how much it cost us, and yet he refuses, resorting to court action in an attempt to stop this information from being made public. A court action, we add, which means that more of our public money is being spent to prevent information to which we should have access from being divulged.

The more he fights against this, the more the suspicions grow. And the more our suspicions grow about other matters related to the commission. Because, if the commissioner is so adamant to keep information regarding the fee paid to one person, one wonders to what lengths he is willing to go to keep other matters secret. One hopes that the investigation that the National Audit Office is carrying out at the request of the Nationalist Party will shed some light on what is going on.

Why is the commissioner so reluctant to tell us how much Walliams was paid? Why is the commissioner willing to move heaven and earth not to disclose one single fee? If the Maltese courts tell him that he must make the information public, will he take the matter before some European court, again at our expense? Is the commissioner so powerful that not even the minister, or the prime minister, are inclined to push him to tell us? Or are they in agreement with him, which would mean that they are also disregarding rulings given by institutions set up to safeguard public rights?

One last thing – last Friday, a press conference was called up for the commissioner to speak about a report which, the commission claims, shows that for every €1 given to productions via the film rebate scheme, €3 was spent. But, yet again, a veil of secrecy shrouds this report because the commissioner does not want to publish it, citing legal advice.

So we have to take Grech’s word for it, because we cannot judge for ourselves. Can the commission at least tell us how much the report cost?

We’re not holding our breath.

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