Nationalist Party opposition seeking an early discussion on the Speaker’s “breach of oath of office.”

Parliament’s Speaker, Dr Anġlu Farrugia has abstained from entertaining the Nationalist Party opposition’s call for an urgent discussion on his actions in the aftermath of Labour Party MP Rosianne Cutajar’s violation of the code of ethics, and a subsequent exchange of letters with Matthew Caruana Galizia.

The motion for an urgent discussion was brought by the Opposition’s leader, Dr Bernard Grech, who stated that the Speaker has a constitutional obligation to lead parliament impartially and that he has taken an oath of office to serve the constitution and the people. Despite this, he had stated that he had a job to protect the government’s interests, implying that he was not neutral. Grech said that the Speaker’s prejudice was also demonstrated by the manner he utilised his casting vote in numerous judgments of the parliamentary committee on standards in public life, rendering the exercise unproductive.

In response, the Speaker stated that because the motion addressed his behaviour, he would abstain and turn the floor over to the Deputy Speaker, Claudette Buttigieg. Intervening, Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield stated that the motion was not urgent and that it could have been introduced earlier if that had been the case. The sitting has been adjourned until the deputy speaker makes her decision.

Parliament’s Speaker, Dr Anġlu Farrugia

Speaker criticised

The Speaker’s role has come under scrutiny after the parliamentary standards committee decided that Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar should be severely reprimanded for violating House ethics by failing to declare cash following her role in brokering a property deal with 17 Black owner Yorgen Fenech, who is now on trial for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

However, the Speaker’s “stern” reprimand had just consisted of a letter telling Cutajar of the committee’s conclusion. The issue got more severe after Matthew Caruana Galizia, the dead journalist’s son, and the Speaker exchanged sharply worded letters. Caruana Galizia accused Farrugia of shielding Cutajar and demanded that he quit.

Caruana Galizia wrote “Most of all, your pathetic, simpering letter to Rosianne Cutajar signals to society that corruption, in this case, the corruption of the country’s highest institution, is permissible.”   

Matthew Caruana Galizia, son of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The Speaker responded through his lawyer, dismissing the call as “not in the best interests of democracy” and informing Caruana Galizia that he did not appear to comprehend the parliamentary process and legislation.

Former Speaker (and then Prime Minister) Dr Lawrence Gonzi replied on Facebook, claiming that the implementations of legislation intended to improve standards in public life had been rendered meaningless. Gonzi stated that it was uncommon for a Speaker, who represents both the government and the opposition, to respond to a citizen who addressed a complaint to him by attempting to silence that person through a legal letter.