The 26-year old, recently-qualified daughter of former Labour deputy leader, now Judge Toni Abela, has been given a lucrative government job by the justice minister to provide him with legal services.
Fleur Abela graduated less than three years ago and has limited legal experience.
While her colleagues who graduated in the same year in 2018 are expected to earn less than €20,000 a year, if they ever manage to get a job with the government, Judge Toni Abela’s daughter was recruited through a direct order and given a tailor-made contract of some €45,000 a year.
Abela’s remuneration is in fact higher than that paid to senior advocates at the Attorney General’s office with more than 20 years of experience.
Abela’s direct order job is one of several dished out by Minister Zammit Lewis during the last six months of 2020.
According to new information published in the Government Gazette, Zammit Lewis spent some €1 million in direct orders, mostly among political collaborators and companies based in his constituency.
Zammit Lewis seems to be surrounding himself with young lawyers who have no real legal experience. The justice minister has recruited at least another three newly graduated lawyers. What they have in common is that relations to his supporters or activism within the Labour Party.
Bryony Balzan Bartolo – a former spokesperson of Minister Owen Bonnici was given a €10,000 direct order for unspecified legal services. This income for the former secretary general of the Forum Zagħzagħ Laburisti is a top-up on her full time job, also given to her by Labour a few months ago, at the Housing Authority.
Desiree Attard – former Deputy Labour Mayor of Marsascala and admitted to the bar in 2018 is getting a handsome €50,000 salary for giving Zammit Lewis ‘legal and PR’ consultancy. She had been given various jobs at the ministry even while she was still a full-time student at the University of Malta.
Rodianne Haber – a teacher and the secretary general of Labour’s woman branch ‘Nisa Laburisti ‘– has also found Zammit Lewis’s ministry to boost her income, with a direct order of €8,500 a year for the “services of operations advisor”.
Other lawyers with a few more years of experience were also put on Zammit’s Lewis’s direct orders list.
Jonathan Attard, a former One TV journalist who was catapulted to Labour’s parliamentary backbench recently without ever contesting an election, was given a €13,650 direct order for legal services. After graduating, the former spokesman of disgraced Minister Chris Cardona was put on several direct orders and contracts through various government ministries and agencies.
Mark Vassallo, Xarabank’s former TV producer who also graduated as a lawyer as a mature student was put on the Ministry’s direct orders list and paid almost €10,000 for legal services. Vassallo, who is also the board secretary of PBS apart from other government appointments, is also acting as one of Keith Schembri’s lawyers in the ongoing money laundering and corruption case against him.
In 2020, Vassallo’s wife, Cheryl, also a newly graduated lawyer, was also recruited by Zammit Lewis through a €50,000 direct order to give him legal services. Her father happens to be Mario Azzopardi – the former chief of staff of Chris Cardona, a political rival of Zammit Lewis on the B’Kara district.