So, The Office of the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life sent a reply to this website about my article on its decision not to investigate Kurt Farrugia, CEO of Malta Enterprise on the grounds that he is not by law considered a “person of trust. The commission also added that it is irrelevant whether the person is a PEP or not. I am attaching the reply below.
The Commissioner for Standards in Public Life has drawn up its guidelines on who it considers to be a “person of trust” by law, and the guidelines are drawn according to the Public Administration Act which says:
However, the definition is not explicitly stated by law and I would like to know according to some legal experts whether there is anything in the law that excludes a politically appointed executive from the designation of a “person of trust”. The legal definition as strictly restricted to a person employed in the Minister’s secretariat does not reflect reality, at all. Even legally, the Commissioner’s argument is very weak. For example, the Public Administration Act has a Code of Ethics that is legally applied to “public employees”, but even though Kurt Farrugia is not an employee and technically a contractor with a three-year contract, the Code of Ethics would also apply to him.
Admittedly there is a lot of ridiculous layering and convolution with the Public Administration Act and the laws related to public governance. Maltese legislators love boasting about their laws when they mostly just copy-paste from the UK and other English-speaking jurisdictions without any careful thought. I would suggest that if the Commissioner wants us to trust him, he should at least put some practically context to his legal decisions and he should have said clearly and explicitly that his decision as the law stands does not reflect reality at all.
Reply by the Office of the Commissioner for the Standards of public life
Dear Mr Camilleri
I refer to your blog post at https://markcamilleri.org/2023/05/24/pn-seems-to-have-bee-right-about-standards-commissioner-joseph-azzopardi/, in which you state that the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life decided not to investigate two public officials on the grounds that they are not politically exposed persons (PEPs).
You appear to have based your blog post on initial media reports that were incorrect and were later revised.
As is now acknowledged by media reports on this case, the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life was unable to investigate the officials in question because they are not members of Parliament or persons of trust as defined by the Standards in Public Life Act. The Act applies only to persons in these categories. The Commissioner did not go into the question of whether or not the officials in question are PEPs, because this has no bearing on the applicability of the Act.
You are kindly requested to revise your blog post accordingly.