Minister met MPO sexual harassment victim weeks before police acted

Owen Bonnici insists he took action but gives no details, permanent secretary’s involvement questioned.

 

Culture Minister Owen Bonnici, who appointed Sigmund Mifsud as CEO on a person of trust basis, was given details about the incidents of sexual harassment at the national orchestra weeks before any action was taken by the police, The Shift can reveal.

Bonnici was given the information during a meeting held with the victim herself, in which she detailed the way Sigmund Mifsud and other managers at the orchestra were mismanaging the government entity and even abusing staff, including sexual harassment.

Despite this meeting and the resulting notes taken by the minister passed on to his Permanent Secretary Joyce Dimech, action was only taken at the eleventh hour and only after The Shift reported the case on 23 October.

Three days before The Shift revealed the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO) scandal, Minister Bonnici ignored questions sent to him and refused to give any comments on any action he had taken to address the criminal severe accusations, later confirmed in court.

Speaking to The Shift after he was sent a new set of questions, Minister Bonnici admitted that he was briefed by the victim during a meeting weeks before the claims were made public.

He insisted that he had taken immediate action, saying he sent an e-mail to the Commission Against Domestic Violence. It remains unclear why he did not inform the police immediately.

During his meeting with the victim, Minister Bonnici took notes and asked several questions about his person of trust (Sigmund Mifsud) whom he appointed CEO of the MPO.

The Shift is also informed that Bonnici passed all his notes to Joyce Dimech, his Permanent Secretary. Yet no concrete action appears to have been taken until The Shift made the case public.

Dimech, who was employed with the government in 1986, and handpicked as permanent secretary as soon as Labour was returned to power in 2013, is a well-connected Gozitan.

The 31-year-old MPO manager, whose name cannot be published by court order, admitted to the sexual harassment. He also happens to be a Gozitan close to both Joyce Dimech and Sigmund Mifsud.

MPO officials who spoke to The Shift claimed that during an MPO board meeting, in the presence of Chairman Alfred Camilleri (a former permanent secretary colleague of Dimech), Mifsud claimed that Dimech was handling the issue and had told him that she had everything under control.

The officials said that Camilleri became infuriated at the attempt to cover up the accusations.

Both the Gozitan Manager and the CEO have been arraigned in court. The manager admitted to the charges and was given a suspended sentence. Mifsud’s case is still ongoing.

Both have been suspended from their job but retained on the state’s payroll on half pay until an independent board, whose members have not been named, determines their future.

                           
                           
                               
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KLAUS
KLAUS
23 days ago

I think that ROBBER Abela badly needs useful idiots like Owen Bonneci: Men without decency.

Sandro
23 days ago

Both Owen Bonnici and Joyce Dimech (perm sec) need to be investigated and interrogated by the police. Their position is no longer tenable and they need to be sacked. It is clear they knew everything and tried to hide all evidence.

viv
viv
23 days ago

A notable lack of accountability – yet again.

What must also be taken into consideration is that the MPO, by all accounts, is owned and run by Russian laundered funds. The buck stops in Cyrillic – Malta’s New Colonisers.
Watching Abela scrabbling through that recent interview one gets the impression not of a leader, but of a puppet following orders more sinister than previously thought.

Politics is downstream from culture – and here is the perfect illustration.

Michael Satariano
Michael Satariano
23 days ago

Persons of trust do not form part of the civil service, hence the permanent secretary has no jurisdiction over Sigmund Mifsud.

Sandro
23 days ago

The MPO falls under the ministry of culture and Joyce Dimech is the perm sec and definitely has the jurisdiction over Sigmund Mifsud. She is not a person of trust but a government employee. In fact, it was she who was telling Sigmund to hide every piece of evidence. She must definitely be interrogated by the police as she was the mastermind in trying to hide all the evidence.

Sandro
23 days ago

“During an MPO board meeting, in the presence of Chairman Alfred Camilleri (a former permanent secretary colleague of Dimech), Mifsud claimed that Dimech was handling the issue and had told him that she had everything under control”. The only person who can help the police is definitely Mr. Camilleri, an integral person and it was he who scolded Joyce Dimech for hiding the facts.

Paul Bonello
Paul Bonello
23 days ago
Reply to  Sandro

You are assuming the police want to discover all facts and bring all in the public arena; as if, such an unreliable piece of government machinery

R Pace Bonello
R Pace Bonello
20 days ago

NO CORRUPTION UNDER HIS WATCH – NONE, ZILCH.

Kizzy
Kizzy
17 days ago

Owens’s partner Remenda is a director at Appogg.

makjavel
makjavel
17 days ago
Reply to  Kizzy

Now , that makes a perfect circle .

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