Speaker to decide whether ethics committee is to continue investigating Justyne Caruana

Government and opposition MPs at cross purposes over Caruana’s allegations of breach to right of fair hearing

 

The parliamentary committee for standards in public life suspended its proceedings, related to former education minister Justyne Caruana’s decision to award a sham €15,000 contract to her partner Daniel Bogdanovic, due to Caruana’s constitutional case against the committee.

In yet another terse hearing held on Tuesday, government and opposition members of the committee were at cross purposes over whether to adopt the report filed by Standards Commissioner George Hyzler that had found Caruana in prima facie breach of ethics, and over whether to further the investigation on Caruana’s abuse of power.

After a back-and-forth debate that stretched for about two hours, the Speaker of the House and standards committee chair, Anġlu Farrugia, was asked to provide a ruling on the matter, which led to the suspension of the meeting and another delay to the proceedings.

While government MPs Edward Zammit Lewis and Glenn Bedingfield insisted on filing a motion to suspend the hearings until Caruana’s constitutional case is decided, Opposition MPs Karol Aquilina and Therese Comodini Cachia argued that such a decision would allow anyone seeking to avoid the committee’s scrutiny to do so by filing a similar case, and thus block the committee’s proceedings.

In particular, Aquilina accused the government of delaying further scrutiny of Caruana’s decision in a ploy to delay the investigation until the upcoming general election in the next few months, with Bedingfield and Zammit Lewis firing back accusations of a lack of prudence and respect towards the constitutional court’s remit.

Comodini Cachia argued that the government is treating one of its MPs differently than it would other citizens, given that it does not typically suspend the functioning of its bodies or the application of its laws, while court proceedings are ongoing against them.

“Should we suspend our investigations as a committee in line with certain standards everyone should observe, that would mean we are abdicating our responsibilities in line with the law,” Comodini Cachia said.

Hyzler, who was present for Tuesday’s standards committee meeting, voiced no objection to being asked about his report, except for questions about the methodology employed in his reporting, given that Caruana was accusing him of failing to conduct his investigation adequately in her constitutional case.

Caruana filed a constitutional case against the standards commissioner’s office, alleging that the office’s powers are going against her constitutional rights and that the commissioner failed to draw a distinction between the office’s investigative and decision-making roles.

The former education minister, who back in 2016 was directly involved in the process of drafting the Act that set up the standards commissioner’s office, has also argued that the same law was unconstitutional because she was not given enough time to review the evidence submitted by the commissioner and also because she did not have the possibility to appeal his ruling.

                           
                               
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Isle of corruption
Isle of corruption
3 months ago

That would be a no then as angle always sides with thec2 hippos

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
3 months ago

These people never change and will never learn.

Mariatheresa Micallef
Mariatheresa Micallef
3 months ago
Reply to  saviour mamo

That’s why it’s imperative to vote them out. The whole lot of them.

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