Tista ‘taqra bil-
The Parliament’s Standards Committee has approved the publication of a damning investigative report on a € 5,000-per-month contract that Education Minister Justyne Caruana handed to close friend and former footballer Daniel Bogdanovic.
In a brief meeting Tuesday morning, the committee met to urgently discuss the matter. A few minutes after the start of the meeting, opposition MP Karol Aquilina proposed the full publication of the report with supporting documents.
Government MP Glenn Bedingfield and Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis agreed to the proposal, however Bedingfield agreed with President and Chairman Anġlu Farrugia that personal matters should be left out.
After some suspensions, the committee agreed on the wording of a sentence.
During the meeting, it emerged that someone had filed a complaint other than independent general election candidate Arnold Cassola had filed a complaint.
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After approval of the minutes, opposition MP Karol Aquilina proposed that the report be made public.
Government Whip Glen Beddingfield says even the government is in favor of releasing the report. He adds his dismay that the report was leaked to the media before it was discussed in committee.
“It depends on whose interests the leak is disclosed,” we can hear Aquilina say.
Opposition MP Therese Comodini Cachia adds that the report should be published in its entirety, including the annexes to the report. She noted that this is also the Commissioner’s recommendation. She emphasizes that it is in the public interest.
President Anglu Farrugia said there is information on third parties and personal matters that should not be made public. Aquilina says the media can be careful about this and not publish such private matters.
Comodini Cachia points out that one of those who filed a complaint about this was Alison Bogdanovic who voluntarily filed the report.
The MP invites the Speaker to indicate the two cases which should be hidden from the public. Bedingfield requests that the meeting be briefly suspended until they discuss the matter.
As the session resumes, Farrugia is heard to say, “He made it clear that the report and the documents had to be released.” However, I feel like personal matters… ”before the session was cut off again.
Bedingfield proposes that the report be published and not the attached documents at this point. He adds that family matters are not intended for public consumption.
“Transparency and accountability oblige us not to ‘comfort’ the media, but to give them access to the report and documents. The Complainant knew full well that submitting her report would expose herself. Caruana’s testimony about her friend with whom she is close is also of public interest, ”said Comodini Cachia.
Bedingfield says Hyzler cited excerpts from the complainant in the report.
“A family that does not play politics, does not play politics. As politicians, we must not exacerbate family problems, ”he adds.
Bedingfield opposes publication of the complainant’s full testimony.
Aquilina says the media can be urged to be careful. Comodini Cachia adds that the best interests of the children in mind. Bedingfield says at this point they can then withhold the testimony for the media.
“I am not here to censor the media on the pretext of family problems,” says Comodini Cachia.
“Publish everything and then process it [Ippubblikaw kollox imbgħad affarikom!]”says Bedingfield.
After a brief suspension, an extract was identified which will be redacted.
The committee is discussing the way forward. The next step would be a meeting that would see Hyzler summoned.
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Following a damning report that Education Minister Justyne Caruana broke ethics when she awarded a € 15,000 contract to her “friend” Daniel Bogdanovic, independent political candidate Arnold Cassola s’ asked whether government deputies would again defend and protect “the pigsty behavior of another minister.
Cassola had lodged the formal complaint which led Standards Commissioner George Hyzler to investigate the contract. The report was not released as Hyzler determined that an ethics violation had occurred – in such cases, it is up to the Standards Committee to decide on publication – however, the report appears to have been leaked at The Times of Malta.
The newspaper said Hyzler found a concerted effort to hide Bogdanovic’s incompetence, and that it was ultimately one of the minister’s consultants who did the job Bogdanovic was being paid for. Hyzler even suggested the case could be referred to the police, as crimes had potentially been committed. Hyzler also felt that Caruana and Bogdanovic’s testimony was unreliable.
In her reaction, Cassola pointed out how Caruana’s consultant performed the job her “boyfriend” was assigned to do – when Hyzler looked into the matter, Caruana and Bogdanovic denied an intimate relationship, though their friendship was acknowledged to be. already sufficient grounds for a breach of ethics. in this case – as well as “blatant lies and multiple attempts to cover up the truth by manipulating the details of the electronic copies on the computer”.
Will the government also protect Justyne Caruana? – Cassola