The office of re-appointed Speaker Anglu Farrugia has finally responded, in a press release, to questions about its actions in relation to the Council of Europe report condemning PL MP Rosianne Cutajar for her “serious breach” of the rules of conduct when to disclose a conflict of interest in speaking out against a public inquiry into the Caruana Galizia assassination.
On 15 April, The Shift reported that the status of the information the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has requested from Malta’s Speaker of the House on a serious breach of rules by Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar remained unknown as the deadline for submission loomed. PACE appeared to be still waiting for Speaker Anglu Farrugia to reply.
Questions sent to the House of Representatives by The Shift were ignored.
In its press release issued after The Shift published an article on 15 April highlighting the Speaker’s office’s failure to respond, Farrugia’s staff said that “Speaker Farrugia clarifies that the information requested by the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the timeline and proceedings by the Committee on Standards in Public Life regarding Rosianne Cutajar’s case was sent on 18 January 2022”.
According to the press release, “the latest correspondence received from the President of the PACE earlier this month on 4 April did not solicit any further information in addition to that sent on 18 January but was sent by way of information to notify the Speaker of the decision taken by the Committee on Rules of Procedure on 22 March that the Committee had proceeded with the examination of the complaint concerning the alleged non-declaration of interests by Ms Cutajar during the Assembly debate held in June 2019 on ‘Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination and the rule of law in Malta and beyond’, and that the Committee had found Ms Rosianne Cutajar in serious breach of the rules of conduct of the Assembly”.
Speaker Farrugia claims that, in this same letter, the President of the PACE informed him that the relative report will be sent to him as soon as it is made public. The Speaker notes that no such report has yet been received.
The committee has asked the Speaker – the same one who undermined any action against the Labour MP – to “provide it with relevant information on the procedures before the Committee for Standards in Public Life of the Maltese Parliament, as well as on its timetable, and revert to the matter at one of its next meetings, no later than during the 2022 second part-session of the Assembly”.
The 2022 second part-session will be held between the 25 and 28 April.
The Shift has sent questions to PACE requesting clarification about whether it has received the required information from the Speaker.
A year ago, Pieter Omtzigt requested that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) “look into” whether the behaviour of Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar was in violation of the code of conduct when she criticised his report on Malta, defending the Electrogas deal, only for her relationship with Yorgen Fenech to later be exposed.
Cutajar had resigned, following a damning report by the Standards Commissioner that concluded she was involved in brokering a €3.1 million property deal involving Fenech. Cutajar was being pursued to return a €46,000 brokerage fee that had already been paid to her despite the deal falling through following Fenech’s arrest in November 2019.