Updated with PN reaction
Members of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) are applying pressure on the board, chaired by Alfred Camilleri, and Culture Minister Owen Bonnici, to sack CEO Sigmund Mifsud for “covering up” sexual harassment accusations that have hit the national institution.
The members, including musicians, administrators, and members of management, are demanding action following The Shift’s revelations of sexual harassment at the MPO, now confirmed in court.
While the court banned the publication of the names of those involved, the victim has had to resign after Mifsud failed to act on her reports. The perpetrator got a suspended sentence but suffered no consequence except being ordered to stay away from the victim, who no longer works at the orchestra, after she was forced to resign because of the lack of action by management to address her complaints.
Yet the perpetrator, despite occupying a senior position and admitting to sexual harassment, is still on the MPO’s payroll, receiving half pay until a decision on his future is taken, according to MPO members who spoke to The Shift.
CEO Sigmund Mifsud refused to reply to questions asking him to confirm this or to explain why he never took the reports of sexual harassment to the police. First, he asked for the questions to be sent by email and then ignored them despite several reminders asking him whether he would take responsibility for his actions.
So far, no official charges have been issued by the police against Mifsud, who, according to the senior official constrained to resign from her job, had known about the abuse for months and did nothing to address it.
In her resignation letter, seen by The Shift, she told Mifsud: “I have explained to your good self that my physical and mental health had deteriorated rapidly due to excessive stress caused by abuse and multiple incidents of sexual harassment that took place at the office and during work functions.”
MPO employees told The Shift that the accused is a close friend of the CEO, but Mifsud is offering no explanation.
Culture Minister Owen Bonnici is contributing to the cover-up by refusing to answer questions and taking no apparent action to address abuse at the MPO.
Yet, MPO staff are insisting on Mifsud’s dismissal. One senior official told The Shift: “It is now more than clear that he tried to cover up for his friend”.
“If he doesn’t resign, both the minister and chairman Alfred Camilleri are obliged to ask for it, for good governance and respect for the rest of the employees at the MPO.”
The MPO employees also pointed out the PN’s silence on the issuse. They said they were still waiting for the Opposition to take a stand.
Efforts by The Shift to reach the Opposition’s spokesperson on culture, Julie Zahra, were unsuccessful.
Updated: PN reacts
In a statement following The Shift’s story, the PN, through its spokesperson for Culture Julie Zahra, asked for responsibility to be shouldered by those in the MPO management who knew about these criminal offences and failed to act.
In a statement, Zahra expressed her condemnation of these acts of sexual harassment inside the national orchestra and called upon those responsible, including Culture Minister Owen Bonnici to act.
“It is shameful that the culture of impunity continues to reign supreme, where the government or people close to it continue to hide, even in serious circumstances where an employee had to resign due to sexual harassment, which was now even admitted in court,” the spokesperson said.
The PN called for the minister and the top management of the MPO to investigate and take the necessary action.