Nationalist MP Jason Azzoprardi has filed a Parliamentary motion calling for the revision of a ruling given earlier this week by the Speaker of the House over a tweet on economy minister Chris Cardona.
On Wednesday, the Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia ruled that Azzopardi’s tweet was in breach of parliamentary privilege.
In a strongly worded motion which was filed on Friday, Azzopardi said freedom of political expression is a fundamental right “that is not given or taken by the Speaker of the House” and the Speaker has no authority to censure what is said outside Parliament.
The tweet in question read: “This evening you could see how the corrupt and those close links to criminals behave: they don’t allow those who expose their lies and evil speak.”
Azzopardi did not make any specific reference to Cardona however the minister requested the Speaker’s protection and Farrugia duly asked the Opposition MP to apologise and remove the tweet.
Illejla stajtu taraw kif igib ruhu l-korrott u dak li jiekol il-kirxa mal-qattiela: ma jhalliex jitkellem lil min jikxef il-gideb u l-hazen tieghu.
— Jason Azzopardi (@AzzopardiJason) October 10, 2018
Azzopardi’s tweet followed a report by the Daphne Project, which claimed that in 2017 Cardona had attended a bachelor party at which Alfred Degiorgio – one of the the men charged with Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder – was present.
Other eyewitness reports held that Cardona was seen speaking to Degiorgio at a Siggiewi bar before the murder of Caruana Galizia in October 2017.
Italian newspaper La Repubblica also reported that phone records showed that Pierre Darmanin, who spoke with Caruana Galizia after she reported on fuel smuggling in October 2016, called Cardona and Degiorgio.
In his motion, Azzopardi said that Farrugia set a “dangerous precedent” in censuring, hindering and silencing political debate outside of Parliament which has no impact on Parliamentary business.
Noting that Cardona has other legal remedies at his disposal, Azzopardi said that the Speaker should defend the opposition’s right to scrutinise government.
Azzopardi said he is requesting a revision of the ruling because the fundamental right to political expression of MPs is above any Standing Order, which the MP insisted cannot be used to “bury or repress” such a fundamental right.
Moreover, Azzopardi said it is “inconceivable” that the Speaker of the House censors what is written or said by an MP outside the House, especially when the laws of the land offer remedies to whoever feels slandered.