UK stalls on consent for Manuel Mallia to take up diplomatic post

Updated to include response from the British High Commission

Diplomatic trouble is brewing between Malta and the UK as the British government has not yet given its consent for former minister Manuel Mallia to take over the reins of Malta’s High Commission in London.

Although Mallia resigned from parliament last July, following an agreement with Prime Minister Robert Abela to cede his seat in exchange for a posting in London for him and his family, the British government has so far not given the green light.

As a result, Mallia has been unable to take up his diplomatic post and is still living in Malta.

Senior diplomats at the Foreign Affairs Ministry told The Shift that the Maltese government “is getting concerned” over the delay by the UK authorities to issue the required agrément – the term used for the approval of a diplomatic representative by the State to which he or she is to be accredited.

“Normally this consent is just a formality. In Mallia’s case,  since he was already a former minister and quite known, the consent should have been easier,” the sources said.

“However, it seems that some issues have cropped up along the way and the UK authorities have signalled to the Maltese Foreign Ministry that they need more time.”

Under normal circumstances, countries like the UK conduct due diligence on the nominated diplomat before granting their consent. In most cases, consent is issued. It is only on very rare occasions that it is delayed or even withheld.

Mallia – a controversial figure during his relatively short stint in politics – had prepared to take residence in London last summer after his nomination’s approval by parliament’s Public Appointments Committee in July. He had already enrolled his two children in private schools in London, The Shift is informed, but had to change his plans after the UK’s delayed consent.

Recent claims of involvement in criminal activity

While waiting for the UK’s go-ahead, Mallia is currently under increasing pressure on very serious claims made against him by Mark Camilleri – a former member of the Labour Party executive and president of the National Book Council.

Last month, Camilleri claimed in a book he published that Mallia was involved in oil smuggling and money laundering activities together with other criminals.

On Monday, Camilleri upped his ante, making even more specific claims against the former PN activist turned Labour minister.

According to Camilleri, the former Interior Minister “owned a ship along with another oil smuggler called it-Turu” which allegedly sold illegal oil to the Falzon Group.

Both claims have been denied by Mallia.

A chequered past

Mostly known as a top criminal lawyer due to his association with former President Guido De Marco’s legal firm and his past connections with his daughter, Giannella, Mallia was for a long time a political canvasser of the former PN’s deputy leader.

Although he always showed interest in contesting the elections for the PN, this never happened. It is an open secret that he was not highly regarded by Eddie Fenech Adami’s administration.

In 2013, Mallia crossed over to Labour and Joseph Muscat immediately made him his National Security Minister responsible for the police and the army.

Yet his stint as a prominent member of Muscat’s first Cabinet was short-lived as Mallia was ‘caught’ trying to cover up a shooting incident involving his own driver.

After refusing to step down on the order of the prime minister, Mallia was unceremoniously sacked. Yet he did not resign from parliament. Instead, he was given a raft of ‘government consultancies’ with a €56,000 part-time job as a legal consultant to the Office of the Prime Minister and another €30,000 as part-time chairman of the Health and Safety Authority together with a full-time personal assistant and driver.

Later, he was also reappointed Minister for Competitiveness and Digital Economy but failed to make it to parliament on his own steam in 2017 and only managed to re-enter the House through a casual election, losing his Cabinet seat in the process.

€500,000 stash

Apart from various political blunders during his time at the Interior Ministry, with a record four consecutive promotions in four months to Jeffrey Curmi to become brigadier of the Armed Forces, Mallia also hit the headlines as a result of his declaration of assets.

Soon after becoming minister, Mallia declared having some €500,000 in cash stashed at his home. While this self-admission was immediately frowned upon by money laundering watchdogs, Mallia never gave a full explanation for these funds.

According to his declarations, Mallia was by far the richest member of Cabinet, amassing some €2 million in assets and owning seven different properties in both Malta and Romania.

His declared annual income in the year before becoming minister (2013) stood at €227,000 including from the rent of various properties.

In response to the article, the British High Commission said, “the request for Dr Mallia’s appointment as Malta’s High Commissioner to the UK is being processed in the normal way”.

                           
                               
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Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
1 month ago

As they put it in Italy “Non fare mai i conti senza l’oste”.

Besides, one may always follow the advice given to Antonio in ‘The Merchant of Venice’
in the sense that if the first arrow fails to hit the target, one should aim a second one in the same direction – hoping that this reaches the intended target.

Isn’t that what happened when Dr Toni Abela was not selected for a position in the European Court of Auditors?

After all the Government has other ‘arrows’ in its quiver – given that other ministers have, for one reason or another, renounced, or made to renounce their portfolio, or given up politics altogether!

Always, however, keeping in mind the Italian adage, of course.

Iain Morrison
Iain Morrison
1 month ago

A diplomatic crook!

Paul Bonello
Paul Bonello
1 month ago

Once Mallia had the gall to propose himself as Commissioner to the Queen, and the Government’s standards are so appalling as to propose him as our ambassador, then I applaud the no nonsense approach of the UK’s Foreign Office to consider such a nomination as an affront to it. At this rate the Foreign Office must be considering whether this sort of behaviour devoid of any sense of political realism ought to have deserved black listing rather than grey listing. What an absolute amateur lot.

James
James
1 month ago

What a surprise… another of the cronies appointed by the the former PM whose performance in office is a disgrace and yet is still being “ looked after” by the current PM.

Think Edward Scicluna now head of the Central Bank, John Mamo reappointed as chairman of the MFSA despite the scandals surrounding Joseph Cuschieri and Edwina Licari for starters.

The rest of the world must be shaking their heads in disbelief at the crassness of our leaders.

Cikku Poplu
Cikku Poplu
1 month ago

The British are no Gahan!

Toni Borg
Toni Borg
1 month ago

Having made millions, and saved millions more in tax evasion, Mallia now wants to live a luxury life as a Diplomat, Way from the hussle and bussle of this corrupt construction site.

like many youngsters, he wants to raise his children in a foreign country. Has he given up on Malta? Has he also become so aware of the surrounding corruption that he’s fed up? Or is he perhaps being rewarded to keep mum on the filth that he knows of?

S.Borg
S.Borg
29 days ago

Look at his past in the politics career. Not fit for purpose.

joe tedesco
joe tedesco
29 days ago

THEY ARE NOT IDIOTS. THEY PROBABLY DO
NOT TRUST HIM JUST LIKE MYSELF.

Chris
Chris
29 days ago

If the Brits accept his nomination, it will reflect very badly on the Brits. It would be an immeasurable drop in expected standards. Far better to have no High Commissioner than to have a Lowdown and Dirty one.

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