Labour candidate Katya De Giovanni, currently serving as chairperson of the Social Care Standards Authority (SCSA), hired her 74-year-old father as a full time ‘junior lawyer’ with the agency just weeks after he was sacked from the education ministry for wrongdoing, according to documents seen by The Shift.
Anthony De Giovanni, a former art teacher and civil servant until his retirement in 2008, made headlines in 2020 when he was dismissed from his job as consultant to the education ministry for using state equipment to tamper with the Wikipedia page of the Council of Europe’s Special Rapporteur Pieter Omtzigt.
De Giovanni, who also served as a Labour mayor in Fgura, only gained his law degree in 2016, having begun his studies after he retired from the civil service in 2008. He’s also well-known on the comments boards of online news sites as a fervent Labour supporter.
The pensioner was appointed to the position of ‘junior lawyer’ at the SCSA just weeks after his dismissal from the education ministry. The role nets him thousands of taxpayers’ euros a year, on top of the state pension he receives as a former director at the education ministry.
Sources close to the authority told The Shift that employees at the SCSA were surprised that the position of junior lawyer, issued through a public call, was filled by the pensioner-father of the same Authority’s chairperson.
The Shift is informed that this recruitment exercise, considered by many within the organisation to be ‘abusive’ and ‘improper’, was reported to both Minister Michael Falzon, under whose ministry the Authority fell at the time of the recruitment, and to Michael Farrugia, the minister currently responsible for the agency.
The source said that their appeal for an investigation into the case has been ignored. Questions sent by The Shift to Minister Farrugia and his communications coordinator, Charmaine Craus, several weeks ago have also been ignored.
The Shift asked Farrugia to confirm the recruitment of the 74-year-old as a junior lawyer, to state who were the members of the selection board and to divulge whether an investigation has been conducted into possible wrongdoing by SCSA chairperson De Giovanni.
We also asked Farrugia whether he was aware that De Giovanni senior had been sacked from the position of consultant at the education ministry just before he was hired by the SCSA.
Misuse of government computer equipment
In January 2020, when he was serving as a government consultant to former Education Minister Owen Bonnici, De Giovanni was caught using a government PC to change the Wikipedia profile of Dutch MEP Pieter Omtzigt.
As Special Rapporteur for the Council of Europe, Omtzigt’s report was critical to ensuring the Maltese government committed to a public inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. It was only after he imposed a three-month deadline that Joseph Muscat finally bowed to pressure after two years of resisting its launch.
In comments to the media after his sacking, De Giovanni admitted to carrying out what he termed as “legitimate editing” using public infrastructure.
The De Giovannis
Anthony De Giovanni is an old-school Labour stalwart – his candidate daughter referred to him as “suldat ta l-azzar” in a Facebook post – and one of the main organisers of the erstwhile 1 May ‘Battle of Flowers’ parade.
He also helped organise many of Labour’s mass events, particularly during the periods when the party was led by Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici and Alfred Sant.
For 11 years, between 1993 and 2004, he served as Labour’s mayor of Fgura.
His daughter, Katya, a lecturer in family studies at the University of Malta, was appointed SCSA chair after having been recruited through the Labour Party’s Lead programme, intended to nurture women politicians.
Katya is married to engineer Kevin Chircop, who was appointed by the Labour government as CEO of the Malta Air Traffic Service – another government agency.