Air Malta, the ailing national airline which is seeking additional funding from taxpayers to continue flying, is defending its Head of Public Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility – Labour propagandist Karl Stagno Navarra – despite his daily television appearances being a breach of his employment contract with the airline.
Recruited with a €48,000 package last year by disgraced former Minister Konrad Mizzi, and placed in a position aimed at improving the image of the airline with its customers, the airline has now given its blessing to the former PN propagandist, turned Labour in 2013, to continue his daily diatribes on One TV, deriding all who oppose the government.
Senior officials at Air Malta told The Shift that Stagno Navarra’s appearances on Labour TV, mocking all those who oppose the government – all potential Air Malta clients – goes against his role at the national airline.
According to Stagno Navarra’s contract, seen by The Shift, the Labour propagandist needed his employer’s permission to continue working with Labour’s TV station.
Also, his contract stipulates that disciplinary action will be taken against him in case, through his actions, he harms relationships with Air Malta customers.
“The employee shall, during the continuance of this contract and for the period of two years after the termination of employment, for whatsoever reason, not in any way solicit or interfere with any endeavour to entice away from the employer any employees and customers, who at the time during the period of two years immediately preceding the date of termination of employment were employees or customers of the employer (Air Malta),” his contract states.
In case of a breach of this clause, Air Malta is duty bound to take disciplinary action against him, including legal action to recover damages, his contract states.
Despite his employment at Air Malta, the Labour propagandist, a known fraudster, continued to present his daily controversial show on One TV, aimed at silencing all who criticise the government, including members of the opposition, journalists, academics and constituted bodies.
Industrial relations lawyers have told The Shift that apart from the fact that the national airline’s PR man should not enter into any sort of public controversies, as this will undoubtedly harm his employer, it is clear that Stagno Navarra’s role at One TV is in breach of his employment contract at Air Malta.
“Surely, mocking people on One TV is not helping the airline get new customers,” one lawyer said.
Asked by The Shift to declare whether Air Malta has given permission to Stagno Navarra to continue his work for One TV, a spokesman for the national airline confirmed that they had.
At the same time, the airline’s spokesman refused to state whether Stagno Navarra holds a university degree, a written requirement for his job.
“Mr Stagno Navarra has been selected for the post after a public call was issued and a diligent selection process followed,” the spokesman said, without providing further details.
For many years, Stagno Navarra was derided by Labour officials for his bombastic style of reporting when serving the Nationalist Party newsroom. After being thrown out of his job, following the surfacing of a number of court cases related to fraud, Stagno Navarra joined Saviour Balzan at Malta Today.
Upon Labour’s return to power, Stagno Navarra was immediately placed on the government’s payroll, first at Malta Enterprise and then at Air Malta. In the meantime, he was given contracts for public relations and marketing jobs at the Office of the Prime Minister through direct orders, further boosting his income.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Robert Abela had to publicly apologise after Stagno Navarra ridiculed several private citizens on Labour TV for their criticism of the government on social media.
Abela, a former legal consultant at Air Malta, had distanced himself from Stagno Navarra’s comments.