Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has confirmed that a leaked video showing himself and his wife Michelle dancing at the Girgenti Palace was filmed during an event to celebrate his 45th birthday.
The viral video shows Joseph Muscat jumping up and down and chanting to the Labour Party classic “Ma Tagħmlu Xejn…” while his wife Michelle dances in front of him and waves a bottle of champagne. The Prime Minister’s daughters and parents are also visible in the video.
Independent MEP candidate Arnold Cassola requested an investigation by the Electoral Commissioner and the new Standards Commissioner last February into whether a state property was used by a political party in breach of the law regulating party financing.
However, in his first major decision since his recent appointment, Standards Commissioner George Hyzler ruled today that the party in no way breaches ethical guidelines for ministers and political parties.
“The Prime Minister confirmed in an email that this was a private party held to celebrate his 45th birthday and that no public funds were used,” Hyzler said.
While the ministerial code of ethics obliges ministers and parliamentary secretaries to adhere to the highest ethical standards in their personal lives, Hyzler rejected that this code was breached, arguing that the video was most probably leaked without Muscat having been informed beforehand.
As for Cassola’s argument that the use of Girgenti Palace was in breach of the party financing law, Hyzler noted that this was a private event, not a political one.
This is George Hyzler (left)’s first major decision as Standards Commissioner
“Just because an action may irritate some people doesn’t necessarily mean that it amounts to an ethical breach. Therefore, in my opinion, having fun in your own house within the limits of decency cannot be considered as an action that must be censured.”
“The right to live in a state residence should also come with the right to organise private parties and activities in it for relatives and friends. If the guests sing a partisan song, this is no way means that the activity would have gone from being a private event to a political one.”
Cassola criticised Hyzler’s ruling, warning that it will only “fuel politicians to keep abusing of their influential positions at the cost of the people”.
“The only little bit of comfort I can take from this ruling is that it acknowledges that the song that was song was a partisan one,” he said. “However, it shocks me that [Hyzler] finds no problem with [Muscat] singing a partisan song in a state residence.”