Shouts of “shame on you” greeted Prime Minister Joseph Muscat as he arrived for a gala event organised by Henley and Partners in London to promote “the success” of the country’s cash for passports programme.
Muscat and his wife Michelle arrived at Drapers’ Hall one hour late.
As they waited, protestors offered fake Maltese passports other guests arriving. One of them replied: “I already bought one”.
The Prime Minister’s head of communications Kurt Farrugia was one of the first to arrive, and Muscat and his wife were the last to arrive in a black car.
Surrounded by security personnel they were swiftly escorted into the building with guards moving protestors and cameramen away.
Eyewitnesses said that other guests included former CHOGM task force head Phyllis Muscat, and Labour MP Robert Abela and his wife Lydia Abela who is the Labour Party’s executive secretary.
The High Commissioner of Malta Norman Hamilton and his wife Josette were also present, as were junior minister Julia Farrugia Portelli.
The protest was organised by Maltese citizens, who also criticised Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja for his participation in the Henley & Partners event. Protestors held banners reading, ‘Maltese citizenship for sale, apply here’.
Calleja told protestors his performance was not an endorsement of Henley & Partners, but part of his role as cultural ambassador for Malta. He said he had donated half the money earned from the event to his own charity, and the rest to a Carmelite monastry.
Henley and Partners had threatened Caruana Galizia with financially crippling law suits in the UK, with the written consent of the Prime Minister, his chief of staff Konrad Mizzi and culture minister Owen Bonnici. Henley and Partners has also threatened The Shift News with similar lawsuits “in the US and/or UK”.