Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield and Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis this evening walked out of a meeting of Parliament’s Standards Committee which was due to discuss a report drawn up by the Commissioner following a complaint by Repubblika.
The complaint was signed by Repubblika president Robert Aquilina, who is the brother of Nationalist MP and justice spokesperson Karol Aquilina. Karol Aquilina is one of the PN’s representatives on the committee.
Both Zammit Lewis and Bedingfield argued that, given the relation, Aquilina had a conflict of interest and should therefore not be present for the meeting, which was not due to discuss the actual complaint, but rather the Commissioner’s report.
The complaint related to political advertisements for the minister published in the local press, which Repubblika said did not provide readers with any essential information and which fulfilled none of the criteria for pre-established budgetary provision and was nothing more than a public relations vehicle for Abela.
The MPs walked out before a vote was taken on whether the Standards Commissioner’s report should be published.
In a reaction, the Nationalist Party (PN) said Bedingfield and Zammit Lewis had abdicated their responsibility as members of the committee, adding that while Aquilina had no conflict of interest, he had offered to be substituted by the Opposition’s whip for the next sitting.
The PN said that Aquilina had done so in order for the committee “to be able to continue its work and for it to bring about an end to the impunity created by the Labour Party, even in Malta’s highest institution”.
The PN said that it was expecting an urgent meeting of the Standards Committee to be held tomorrow so that it can vote on a motion presented by the Opposition for the report to be published.
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