Opinion: The death of shame

Din l-opinjoni tista taqragħha bil-Malti.

Standards Commissioner Joseph Azzopardi taught us that shame performs a vital democratic function – and how dangerous is the man who feels none of it. 

The Commissioner distorted every principle of justice to exonerate the outrageously brazen Rosianne Cutajar.  Defying reason, he decided he wouldn’t investigate her, providing Cutajar with a new impetus for more false declarations of innocence and new ammunition with which to abuse her critics.

On 21 March 2023, Mark Camilleri released her notorious chats. One message stood out:  “I don’t care, I’ll become a consultant with Pierre of ITS and earn another salary – I couldn’t care less, everyone’s pigging out”. 

Two days later, The Shift published her ITS contract and revealed that Cutajar failed to declare her consultancy.

Four days later, Dr Robert Aquilina, Repubblika President, complained about Cutajar with the Standards Commissioner.

The Commissioner immediately sought ways of letting her off the hook. He wrote to ITS CEO Pierre Fenech to ask whether Cutajar’s contract published by the Shift was genuine. Fenech replied that indeed it was. It was released after an FOI request.

Fenech confirmed that Cutajar was paid €27,000 annually between 2 May 2019 and January 2020, when Robert Abela appointed her as parliamentary secretary. But Cutajar didn’t bother writing to the CEO to resign from her ITS post. Instead, CEO Pierre Fenech called to congratulate her on her appointment, during which “she informed me ..she obviously cannot continue in her role at ITS, hence we terminated her as per normal practice”.

This is the deviousness with which Labour operates – no letter from Cutajar, no written documentation anywhere—just an informal, friendly telephone chat between friends. So we’ll have to take Pierre Fenech’s word for it.

Commissioner Azzopardi had a problem. ITS had paid Cutajar thousands of euros, but Cutajar’s signed declaration in the MPs’ register of interests failed to declare her ITS consultancy.  Robert Aquilina was right.

Even the Commissioner was forced to admit: “The Hon Cutajar was duty-bound to declare her contract of employment, the date of signing and the date of its termination”. She didn’t.  She manifestly breached ethics.

But the Commissioner isn’t interested in delivering justice.  He only wanted to absolve Cutajar, no matter how flagrant her breach.

So he dug up the most pathetic excuse to abandon the investigation.  “A complaint should be disregarded if the complaint isn’t lodged within 30 working days from the day on which the complainant became aware of the fact leading to the complaint or within a year since the fact that led to the complaint occurred, depending on which comes first” shift. How convenient.

Robert Aquilina and everybody else, except Rosianne Cutajar and Pierre Fenech, could not have known about Cutajar’s ITS consultancy.  It was kept secret and only became public knowledge when Mark Camilleri released those chats. 

Robert Aquilina only became aware that Cutajar failed to declare it through the Shift on 23rd March 2023, and he lodged his complaint just four days later, well within the 30 days specified in the Public Standards Act.

That didn’t matter to the commissioner. Azzopardi claimed that since Cutajar made her parliamentary declaration in 2020, and the complaint was lodged in 2023 when Aquilina found out about her offence, Azzopardi wouldn’t investigate.

Triumphantly, the commissioner declared: “Therefore, this Office has decided there is no basis on which this complaint should be investigated”. “This document represents a decision that no investigation will be conducted…..therefore, this document will not be published”.

Not only did the commissioner deviously refuse to investigate her manifest breach, but they ensured nobody would know about it. If it weren’t for Republika, that report would have been buried.

Commissioner Azzopardi seems beyond embarrassed as if the only moral compass he follows is the one gifted to him by Labour.  Shame should be the regulative brake that restricts his ability to pursue self-interest.

Instead, he’s developing a disturbing penchant for obscene decisions intended solely to please Labour, who gave him his plum job. No wonder Robert Abela instituted an anti-deadlock mechanism to appoint him.

Rosianne Cutajar immediately exploited Azzopardi’s obsequiousness. “Today I received a letter from the standards commissioner informing me that he will not investigate allegations against me….he decided the case is closed”.

She launched another vituperative post against those seeking justice:  “This was an attempt by the same clan of people who systematically attack me aggressively on a political and personal level to exclude me from my political and Labour activism.”

ONE bolstered her narrative.  The Labour station spoke about “an allegation about an ITS consultancy from 2019”.   This was no allegation, it’s confirmed by a signed contract and ITS CEO Pierre Fenech. Cutajar’s failure to declare her consultancy is also a fact, and her ethics breach is another.

Cutajar’s consultancy was probably just another phantom job, and she admitted in her chats with Yorgen Fenech that her true motivation for demanding the post was to collect another salary.

She probably never did any work-  at least, no evidence of it has been provided. The commissioner refused to look into this – “this wasn’t raised in the complaint” and “this issue doesn’t fall strictly within the parameters of this office”, he declared in his unpublished report.

That’s not the first time Cutajar has been spared. Robert Abela removed her from the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly to avert a humiliating sanction for the MP by the Assembly.

But now the National Audit Office (NAO) report on Rosianne Cutajar’s fake job has taught the commissioner a lesson. The NAO was categorical – Cutajar’s consultancy was fraudulent and irregular.

The NAO found practically no evidence that she had done any work and concluded she was incompetent for the job she was given. All the rules were broken to create a job for her for which there was no need.

If the standards commissioner’s absolution was intended to give Cutajar another lifeline to resurrect her political career, the NAO put a swift end to it.  

The commissioner’s toadiness left the nation despairing in despondent powerlessness at the tyranny of impunity. Just days later, the NAO gave the nation hope again. Armed with facts and evidence the NAO demolished all of Rosianne Cutajar’s bluff, lies and deception.   

Cutajar has harmed her country enough. Malta doesn’t need more of her embarrassing filth.

The nation can only watch with despondent powerlessness this tyranny of impunity.

                           

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9 Comments
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Mick
Mick
2 months ago

Spot on yet again Kevin, don’t ever stop revealing their opportunistic and illegal workings in self interest and promotion in making this a Dystopian state run by the Mafia.

Frank Galea
Frank Galea
2 months ago

Can the NAO conduct an investigation on the Standards Commissioner Office because by his attitude, the Standards Commissioner, a Chief Justice Emeritus, is just glorifying impunity! No wonder Dr George Hyzler, the former Standards Commissioner, was hurriedly appointed to the EU Board of Auditors, one year before his appointment expired! We now definitely know the reason! Good governance my foot! Shame on all directly or indirectly involved!

Lawrence Mifsud
Lawrence Mifsud
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Galea

Accountability…Transparency…Meritocracy…….

Marianna Galea Xuereb
Marianna Galea Xuereb
2 months ago

Meritokrazija BAHHHHHH is thed Magic word.

Saviour Mamo
Saviour Mamo
2 months ago

Since Joseph Azzopardi has been appointed as Standard’s Commisioner ,he is falling freely in Labour’s skip.

makjavel
makjavel
2 months ago
Reply to  Saviour Mamo

Joseph Azzopardi has become the court jester. The King’s dress is made of transparent gold. If anybody looks up to see , off with his head.

Last edited 2 months ago by makjavel
Mamo Anthony T
Mamo Anthony T
2 months ago

Didn’t parliament enact a law removing time barring for MPs?

Marianna Galea Xuereb
Marianna Galea Xuereb
2 months ago
Reply to  Mamo Anthony T

Yes, it did. And many actually boasted about it.

D. Abela
D. Abela
2 months ago

Joseph Azzopardi is simply another Angelo Gafá. The PL is simply making sure everything and everyone work in their favour.

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