Cassola wants Fisheries Minister’s event investigated for breach of ethics

Independent politician Arnold Cassola has called on the Commissioner for Standards on Public Life Joseph Azzopardi to investigate Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries Alicia Bugeja Said for a breach of ethics in an upcoming event she is hosting in her personal capacity for Ministry employees, in a letter sent on Wednesday.

Bugeja Said’s event, “Swimming with Tuna” is slated for Friday 7 July and will see ministry employees taking part during office hours given the event starts at 2:30pm.

In his letter, Cassola argued that such an event constitutes a clear breach of ethics and a conflict of interest given that such an event could only be hosted in collaboration with the fish-farming industry, of which Bugeja Said is the regulator.

An invitation to the event sent to ministry employees on Monday by the ministry itself is emblazoned with Bugeja Said’s personal logo, which she uses for campaigning, with no mention of the ministry itself.

The invitation states that the event is in aid of abandoned animals and suggests a donation of €10.

A screenshot of the email sent to ministry employees promoting the minister’s personal event.

Cassola said that while the event’s scope is ostensibly positive, “the end goal is political exposure”. He also noted that the breach of ethics is compounded by the fact that Bugeja Said used ministry data – the employees’ email addresses – for self-promotion.

The event is not the first case of conflicting interests for Bugeja Said, given that one of the Fisheries Junior Minister’s donors was Azzopardi Fisheries.

Chief Justice Emeritus Joseph Azzopardi was appointed Standards Commissioner last March through a controversial ‘anti-parliamentary deadlock’ legislation passed covertly two days after last Christmas.

The new legislation allowed the commissioner to be appointed through a simple majority vote, given that the previously required two-thirds consensus was not reached.

This meant that the government freely chose a commissioner without the need for consensus with the Opposition.

Azzopardi’s first decision as Commissioner last March, in response to another letter by Cassola calling on him to investigate Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo for obscuring public documents, was to forego the investigation, calling it unmerited.

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Paul Bonello
Paul Bonello
2 months ago

Heading of e-mail invitation is “Swimming with Tuna”. Is this correct or was it meant to say “Swimming with Sharks”?

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