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Stephen Spiteri Buys Time As Council Postpones Medical Certificate Inquiry Decision Pending MP’s Constitutional Case

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Shadow health minister Stephen Spiteri has managed to postpone a decision by the Medical Council inquiry into how he sold medical certificates to patients without seeing them.

In a hearing today, the Medical Council announced it had deferred its inquiry indefinitely pending the outcome of a constitutional court case filed by the Nationalist MP.

The Medical Council started investigating Spiteri in 2018 after Lovin Malta revealed that he was selling medical certificates for €5 each without seeing his patients first. Spiteri has denied any wrongdoing.

As per law, the Medical Council has two years to complete an inquiry unless the delay is occasioned through no fault of its own.

With the Council inquiry drawing to a close, Spiteri filed a constitutional case yesterday, a day before the next Medical Council hearing, to call for an end to the investigation.

Spiteri is arguing that the inquiry has been time-barred because more than two years have elapsed since it began, an argument the Medical Council has already challenged by saying the delay was a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Spiteri is also challenging the set-up of the Medical Council itself, arguing that its power to investigate and pass judgements on medical professionals is unconstitutional.

The MP argued that the fact the Medical Council members lack security of tenure means they cannot guarantee him a fair and impartial hearing and criticised the Council for proceeding with the inquiry “in a shameless and totally imprudent manner” even after he informed them he intends to file a constitutional case.

Yet the case has now been postponed pending the outcome of the constitutional case. If Spiteri loses the case, the Medical Council’s inquiry will proceed and, if it finds him guilty, it can impose a number of punishments, the strongest of which is a recommendation to the President of the Republic to withdraw his warrant.

If he wins the case, it is likely that the Medical Council will have to undergo a reform.

What do you make of Stephen Spiteri’s case?

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