Police and national orchestra confirm sexual harassment claims, probe started

The police and the top brass of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) have confirmed the sexual harassment claims revealed by The Shift last Sunday and that investigations have been initiated.

Following The Shift’s report that former employees have made sexual harassment and gender discrimination claims against the MPO’s management, a police spokesperson has confirmed that a criminal complaint has been lodged and that a formal investigation is now underway.

At the same time, the orchestra’s politically-appointed chief executive officer Sigmund Mifsud has distanced himself from the claims but admitted that reports of harassment have been presented to the orchestra’s management and that a board of inquiry has been established.

In reply to a series of questions from The Shift – including questions about claims made against his style of management and the sexual abuse claims – Mifsud chose not to comment and only confirmed that an internal investigation is now underway.

“A board of investigation was appointed to investigate and report on the allegations, as per government policy on sexual harassment claims. The board will investigate all the facts and draw up the conclusions,” Mifsud told The Shift.

The orchestra’s CEO did not furnish details of when the board was formed, who is conducting the inquiry, who appointed the board, or its terms of reference.

Neither would he say if the police have called in any of his team members, including the CEO himself, to be investigated for possible criminal offences or if the inquiry’s conclusions will be published.

Sources close to the MPO have told The Shift that this so-called inquiry has not yet been established and that it was merely “a kneejerk reaction to The Shift’s revelations”.

So far, the minister responsible for the MPO, Owen Bonnici, has not published a statement or uttered a word in public about the serious claims being made, and neither he nor the MPO’s chairman, former finance ministry permanent secretary Alfred Camilleri, have replied to The Shift’s questions despite several reminders.

The Shift on Sunday reported how a senior official at the MPO has resigned following a series of verbal reports of sexual harassment she had made to CEO Sigmund Mifsud, which were ignored.

In a damning letter of resignation sent directly to Mifsud last month and seen by The Shift, the official reminded the CEO that they had “discussed in the last couple of months” her problems with physical and mental stress “caused by abuse and multiple incidents of sexual harassment that took place at the office and during work functions”.

The former officer also expressed her regret that despite these accusations, which she has now put in writing and lodged with the police, Mifsud had not taken any action.

The Shift also reported similar experiences of a young Brazilian violinist, now living in London, who ended her experience with the MPO on a sour note.

She recounted her experience at the MPO in a podcast and described the orchestra as “mismanaged” and “toxic”.

Although the violinist did not mention the MPO by name, her interview was immediately picked up by her former colleagues at the orchestra.

In her interview, the violinist quoted another female MPO violinist who told her not to give much importance to the management’s comments about her dress attire at rehearsals, as “they always do the same thing to beautiful young girls.”

The podcast was taken offline after The Shift’s article on Sunday.


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7 months ago

An appointee from a ‘progressive’ party involved in ‘jus primae noctis’ sexual power plays from less civilised times… To what extent, if any, are they vetted?

Cikku Poplu
Cikku Poplu
7 months ago

An orchestrated scandal!

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