Tourism Minster Clayton Bartolo again insisted on not divulging the list of those who received free football match tickets for Manchester United games distributed through his ministry, telling parliament this was “sensitive information”.
Replying to questions by PN MP Darren Carabott, Bartolo said the recipients of such benefits resulting from the Malta Tourism Authority’s multi-million euro sponsorship of one of the top teams in the English Premier League could not be disclosed.
According to the minister, most of these tickets are being used by tour operators and UK radio stations as competition tickets in campaigns that help promote Malta. Yet he admitted that several other recipients visit Old Trafford stadium as guests of the MTA or the ministry.
The persistent stonewalling of information surrounding the controversial deal between the government and Manchester United follows similar replies to The Shift.
Only a few months ago, Minister Bartolo and the MTA turned down a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for the latest contract signed, as well as a list of beneficiaries of the complimentary tickets distributed by the Tourism Ministry.
Turning down the request for the contract, saying the government is bound by confidentiality, the minister also blocked the publication of the list of those receiving complimentary game tickets, citing “data protection” rules.
The Shift has filed a request for the Data Protection Commissioner to investigate the refusals.
The deal with Manchester United was first struck by disgraced former minister Konrad Mizzi. At the time, the government had also refused to publish the deal despite reports some €20 million were paid for the three-year contract.
Last September, Bartolo travelled to Manchester to sign the contract’s renewal, together with a government delegation of some 11 people, also attending the opening match of the season at Old Trafford.