Did any minister or public official attend a Christmas party organised by a magistrate or a judge last year?
While Prime Minister Joseph Muscat confirmed he personally hadn’t done so, he refused to state whether this was the case for every other minister or public official.
In a series of recent parliamentary questions, Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi asked each minister whether they, or any high-ranking public official, had attended a private celebration, dinner or party organised by a member of the judiciary last December.
The question coyly refers to “a private residence in the limits of Siġġiewi or Ħaż-Żebbuġ”, which could well be a reference to the house of Judge Consuelo Scerri Herrera and her partner, architect-lawyer Robert Musumeci.
Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi
Back in 2010, now-assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia famously wrote a series of blogposts about how Scerri Herrera, back then a magistrate, had let her hair down at a party in which politicians and businessmen were present. This saga earned her a rebuke by the Commission for the Administration of Justice, which warned her attendance at the party was in breach of judicial ethics.
Contacted by Lovin Malta, Azzopardi refused to state outright whether his reference to a private residence in the limits of Siġġiewi or Ħaż-Żebbuġ was intended as a reference to Scerri Herrera’s and Musumeci’s house, coyly saying that “the people can draw their own conclusions”.
While Muscat flat-out denied having attended such Christmas parties himself, he warned that the question breached Parliament’s standing orders which state that questions related to a person’s character and conduct must be related to their official or public capacity.
Azzopardi then hit back by accusing Muscat of trying to claim power that is vested in the Speaker of the House, that of making decisions on Parliament’s standing orders on his behalf.
This power hit the headlines last year when Speaker Anglu Farrugia refused to submit parliamentary questions submitted by former PN leader Simon Busuttil which related to Keith Schembri’s bank accounts.
Azzopardi filed an official complaint to the Speaker, but Farrugia played it down and opted against reprimanding the Prime Minister.