The Malta Independent 19 April 2024, Friday
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Labour glorifies perjury

Kevin Cassar Sunday, 25 February 2024, 08:38 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Scottish Health secretary, the equivalent of our Minister of Health, has resigned. He racked up an £11,000 bill on his work table.  Or rather, his two sons did. While on a family Christmas holiday in Morocco, the two teenagers streamed a football match between Celtic and Rangers on their father’s ipad, running up the massive data roaming bill.

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The health secretary, Michael Matheson was being investigated by Holyrood parliament officials, when he submitted his resignation letter. In it he told the First Minister “It is in the best interest of government for me to step down to ensure this does not become a distraction to taking forward the government’s agenda”.  The First Minister, Humza Yousaf, accepted Matheson’s resignation “with sadness”.

Meanwhile, back in Malta Labour’s parliamentary group was discussing Rosianne Cutajar’s rehabilitation.  The whole group was “positive to her return”. Prime Minister Robert Abela had already made public his own views that Cutajar deserved reintegration into Labour’s heart. Cutajar never admitted her wrongdoing let alone apologised for the embarrassment she caused her party and her country.

She was condemned by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for acting as a paid advocate to the man facing charges over the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Cutajar accepted €9,000 from Yorgen Fenech just weeks before standing up to defend Fenech’s 17-Black and her government’s corruption at the council of Europe. Robert Abela saved her from European sanctions by swiftly replacing her before action could be taken against her.

Despite the biting criticism levelled at Abela by Labour’s conscience, Desmond Zammit Marmara, Abela ploughed on.  He stated that “a decision will be taken in the near future”.  He insisted it’s up to the party executive and not the parliamentary group alone to decide on Rosianne Cutajar’s return. Abela is shoving the responsibility of that decision onto the executive. He simply indicated to them what decision he expects and then left it up to them to execute it.

That would ensure that when he faces justified criticism he’d be able to deflect that criticism onto the party executive – “they decided, not me”.  Zammit Marmara didn’t mince his words: “The serious mistakes committed by Labour politicians Joseph Muscat, Rosianne Cutajar and Justyne Caruana, while in office should have disqualified them from eligibility for public office for life.  Instead, we have witnessed their total rehabilitation, with the politicians being given carte blanche by the Prime Minister to return to public life”.  He called Abela’s decision to welcome back “errant politicians” as “misguided”.

Zammit Marmara was right. Rosianne Cutajar testified under oath that she hadn’t taken any of the money from the promise of sale.  But her confidante Charles Farrugia, it-Tikka admitted that she could not return her share as she had already spent it on a property of her own.  The Standards Commissioner  didn’t believe a word of what she said and concluded that contrary to what Cutajar claimed, under oath, she had in fact received her share of the fees.  Besides, she failed to declare her income from the sale.  She did the same with the €14,000 she earned from her ITS phantom job. The NAO found that she failed to declare those €14,000.

In civilised countries perjury results in prosecution, conviction and jail.  Tommy Sheridan, the leader of the Scottish Socialist party was prosecuted, convicted and jailed for lying under oath.    The police deployed 20 detectives and spent 52,000 hours on the perjury case. The judge, Lord Bracadale, told Sheridan “You have been convicted of the serious offence of perjury”.  Prosecutor Alex Prentice pointed out that “perjury is a serious crime for the simple reason that our whole system falls apart if perjury is acceptable behaviour.  It is not acceptable and should never be acceptable in a mature and dignified democracy”.

For Labour perjury is perfectly acceptable.  But then Malta is hardly a mature and dignified democracy.  It may have been, once, but Labour’s relentless assault on the norms and principles of democracy have wrecked it beyond recognition.

Zammit Marmara was right: “Abela has put political expediency before good governance, ethical correctness and political accountability….he has dashed our last hopes that the Labour party in government can change and eventually become the government we all yearn for”.

When even a Labour stalwart as staunch as Zammit Marmara publicly declares he can no longer vote Labour, Abela ought to take heed.  Instead, the obstinate Abela doubles down and pushes through his corrupt plan to exonerate Rosianne Cutajar and absolve her of her obscene transgressions.

When Jeffrey Archer, an MP and Chairman of the British conservative party was convicted of perjury he was jailed for four years and made to pay £250,000 in court expenses. Former British cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken was jailed for 18 months for perjury.  He allowed aides of the Saudi royal family to pay his Ritz hotel bill but falsely claimed his wife had paid.  He even got his 18-year-old daughter to commit perjury to provide him with an alibi.

Rosianne Cutajar got her close aide, Charles Farrugia it-Tikka, to write a letter to speaker Anglu Farrugia declaring that the €124,000 paid on the property deal was all for him and that Cutajar had not “benefitted” from the money. He even filed an adjustment to his tax return to kill a tax probe into Cutajar’s finances. That letter reached the Speaker at the last minute before the parliamentary standards committee was to discuss Cutajar’s involvement in the €3.1 million promise of sale agreement.

Instead of being investigated, prosecuted and jailed for perjury, Cutajar is rewarded with a warm welcome to Labour’s fold.  Labour rewards lies. It normalises perjury.  Cutajar’s presence amongst Labour’s parliamentary group makes Labour’s MPs feel better, secure in the knowledge that their own misdemeanours will pale into insignificance next to hers.

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