Ethics breach by Fisheries Parliamentary Secretary solved with written apology

The Commissioner of Standards in Public Life, Joseph Azzopardi, has found Parliamentary Secretary for Fishing Alicia Bugeja Said guilty of an ethics breach for using a personal logo on invitations to an event for ministerial employees last July.

Bugeja Said’s event, “Swimming with Tuna”, invited ministry employees to swim alongside tuna pens, with an unnamed fish farm operator providing access and transport to employees from the same ministry meant to regulate them.

The investigation into Bugeja Said’s conduct was launched following a complaint from independent politician Arnold Cassola, who claimed that the fish farm operator’s direct involvement and Bugeja Said’s use of her personal campaign logo on the event invitation constituted an ethics breach.

In his decision, the commissioner found Bugeja Said to be in breach of ethics for using her personal campaign logo on a ministerial activity.

He told Bugeja Said, “If your name appears on advertisements for official activities, this gives the impression that you will be making some personal or political gain from the activity by taking personal credit for it. This situation must be avoided.”

In response to questions sent by the commissioner as part of the investigation, Bugeja Said claimed to have received no financial contributions from the fish farm operator or the ministry toward the event.

She said there were no financial contributions, with the only contribution being that the operator “explained how the fish are taken care of and provided transport to the participants from the coast to the fish farms.”

The commissioner also said since “no significant contributions were made by the [fish farm] operators” to the event, he dismissed that section of the complaint.

Instead, Commissioner Azzopardi claimed it is “common practice for both private and government entities to organise team-building activities” and that “ministry employees should be familiar with the sector which they regulate.”

Azzopardi went on to close the investigation under an article of the Standards in Public Life Act, which allows for non-serious offences to be concluded if the offender remediates the issue in a way that the Commissioner deems appropriate.

In this case, the commissioner considered a written apology from Bugeja Said as appropriate.

The Shift has previously reported how Azzopardi Fisheries, one of the leading tuna fish farm operators in Malta, was also a donor to Bugeja Said’s electoral campaign.

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.

The Shift reported last month how Azzopardi’s conduct in his role as commissioner has been timid, with investigations deemed unnecessary and complaints often being only partially upheld.

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saviour mamo
saviour mamo
15 days ago

I don’t think the judgements by the Standard Commissioner are helping much to raise parliamentary standards. They are keeping them rock bottom.

15 days ago

Obviously, this Chief Justice Emeritus thinks his Commissioner of Standards in Public Life position is just a bloody joke: some kind of silly hobby (that pays well) to be taken up when you reach your late sixties.
A total waste of space occupied by an old cynic who thinks honesty, integrity and civility are worth less than a bowel movement.

Last edited 15 days ago by chris
A. Fan
A. Fan
14 days ago

Just another ‘honest’ mistake by one of Bobby’s crew… right? No need for a (once?) honourable pensioner to get his panties in a twist… right?

Last edited 14 days ago by A. Fan

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