Foreign Affairs Minister Ian Borg has rethought the questionable practice of taking his personal photographer along with him on overseas trips after The Shift revealed in July that the minister had employed Ray Attard to accompany him at meetings in both in Malta and around the world, in contravention of standard practices.
Even the prime minister uses the services of the Department of Information to photograph government events. Yet Minister Ian Borg thought it fit to employ a friend as his personal globetrotting photographer with a €3,200 monthly salary.
Information tabled in parliament confirms The Shift’s findings on the minister deploying his own photographer, spending tens of thousands of euros on his own self-promotion.
Information submitted to parliament also shows that following The Shift’s report in July, Attard had been left home for the minister’s trips to the United Nations and Tokyo.
The information tabled confirms The Shift’s story – that Borg had taken his friend and electoral campaign ‘helper’ to Luxembourg to attend a routine meeting of the EU’s foreign ministers.
These monthly uneventful council meetings are covered by dozens of photographers and videographers employed by the European Council, and all the photos and footage are made available free-of-charge for all international media and delegations.
Borg was the only EU Minister to be accompanied by a personal photographer for this meeting.
Attard’s first overseas photographic assignment for Borg on the taxpayers’ bill was in April, even though his full-time contract with the government started a month later.
In reply to parliamentary questions, the minister said he had also taken his personal photographer on his trips to Brussels, London, Turin and Milan in May, and to Brazil and New York in June.
In New York, the minister was also accompanied by another of his canvassers, Rachel Powell, a young and inexperienced lawyer from Dingli. She was given a job at Infrastructure Malta when Borg was responsible for the entity.
But in September while the minister visited the UN and Japan, his photographer was left behind in Malta.
As The Shift revealed the photographer’s work for his friend the minister, his labours were passed off as having been done on a “voluntary” basis in replies to parliament.
Attard, a former photographer for l-Orizzont and, later, MaltaToday, had already been given a seat of the government’s gravy train with the job as a full-time photographer for years at Malta’s Permanent Representation to the European Union in Brussels.
There had previously been no such role at Dar Malta, and the job is believed to have been created specifically for him.