I’m not proposing here to discuss whether Judge Scerri Herrera is fit and proper to occupy the seat to which she has been promoted. That ship sailed when Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Justice Minister Owen Bonnici collaborated to ignore all the stuff they ignored.
If you want to hear the gossip anyway, chat with a lawyer or six – you’ll get precious little detail, but if you have anything approaching insight, you’ll discern a common thread.
What I do propose to have a look at, though, is Muscat and Bonnici’s contortions when asked about the promotion. My material for the purposes of this exercise is the short video carried by The Times of Malta, which I watched a couple of times.
I know, it’s a filthy job, but someone has to do it.
When questioned, Muscat starts out by coming over rather more than slightly petulant. It’s not so much what he said, though he said plenty, it was that classic pout and that ‘how dare you, a puny reporter question me like that’ look that did it.
He should patent it; world leaders would kill to have a look like that. Or maybe not, if they give even slightly more than a rat’s bottom what the media thinks of them.
Muscat had just been asked whether Scerri Herrera’s promotion raised concerns in the context of the nominated-turned down-nominated again-accepted sequence of events.
He makes it so ruddy clear that the rejection of Scerri Herrera – (co)incidentally sister of environment minister Jose Herrera – had irritated him no end, to the extent that he says that the fact that she should have been a judge long ago was what should be concerning “if anything”.
Then he turned away from the journalist in the end in his classic snub of those who do not meet his approval.
You have to ask, why should the Prime Minister be “concerned” that Scerri Herrera was not made a judge years ago?
Think about it, it won’t take much working out.
Muscat was then asked, “what made her eligible after a year, having been turned down a year ago?” He said that if you look at the advice given, you would see that a fresh nomination was recommended.
He seems to be referring here to what the Judicial Nominations Committee had to say, which jolted Bonnici into sticking his nose in to remind us that the proceedings of the committee are confidential.
Presumably, Bonnici was making sure no-one thought that any extra curricular briefing had taken place. Bonnici went on to say that in both instances, the advice was followed.
That is to say, he confirmed, effectively, the journalist’s premise: If the committee had not black-balled Scerri Herrera a year ago she would have been elevated then, and not now, a year later.
In his haste to cover his boss’ gaffe, Bonnici may have committed another one.