The Malta Independent 26 May 2024, Sunday
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Norman Vella dismissal from PBS ‘politically discriminating’, Employment Commission rules

Wednesday, 15 May 2024, 13:51 Last update: about 11 days ago

Norman Vella’s dismissal from PBS soon after the 2013 election has been declared as “politically discriminating” by the Employment Commission, which, Vella said in a post on Facebook, condemned then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and then Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar as having acted in an unacceptable way in a democratic society.

Vella announced his “historic win” in a post on Facebook, thanking all those who supported him in this 11-year journey.

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He said he will forgive all those who insulted him because they were told to do so. “They do not need to apologise,” he said.

He said his wish is that this victory will not remain only his, but becomes the slogan of a people united against political discrimination.

Power should never be used for vendettas and to punish journalists who are not intimidated, Vella said.

Vella was part of the Xarabank team for a number of years and also produced his own television talk-shows.

He was deployed to PBS in August 2012 but after the 2013 general elections he was redeployed to the Immigration Department, stationed at the Malta International Airport as border control officer.

He filed proceedings before the Employment Commission against then-Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and then-Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar claiming that his redeployment was tantamount to political discrimination.

The Commission, chaired by lawyer Frank Testa, declared that Vella’s redeployment stemmed from political discrimination and was thus unjustifiable in a truly democratic society.

It awarded Vella €15,000 in compensation, plus interest running from the date of today’s decision until effective payment.

Vella was assisted by lawyer Karol Aquilina.

In his application, Vella had claimed that Joseph Muscat, when he was leader of the opposition, had threatened to cause serious damage to him (Vella) if he felt that the Labour Party was being attacked.

The threat, he claimed, was made during a meeting in the presence of Peppi Azzopardi, the presenter of Xarabank, Malta’s most watched talk show at the time, and members of the Labour Party.

According to Vella, Muscat told them: “For every attack we feel that is directed at the Labour Party, I will retaliate with twice as much force, with all my might, below the belt, where it hurts.”

Today's judgment is yet another blow to Muscat's credibility. Muscat is facing criminal charges following the conclusion of the magisterial inquiry into the transfer of three public hospitals to the private sector. He is due to appear in court on 28 May.

In a statement, the Nationalist Party said that government had been found guilty of political discrimination, another confirmation that the government says one thing and does the opposite. Labour promised a "Malta Taghna lkoll" but ended up doing the opposite of what it pledged.

The PN welcomed the decision "in favour of freedom of expression and equal treatment", irrespective of political beliefs.

It urged the government and Labour Party to apologise to Vella.

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