In pursuit of justice and truth
The events that took place this week, in court and in parliament, have continued to highlight the need for perseverance by those of us who feel that justice and truth must always prevail.
Claudette Buttigieg is a PN MP – firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter: @ButClaudette
Last Friday, our highest court ruled in favour of a claim that the PN has been making for the past four years. During the counting of the general election votes in 2013, a pack of 50 firstpreference votes were supposed to be placed under my name but they were erroneously misplaced under another candidate’s. This led to a gross perversion of the preference expressed by voters. On the 8th district, the people chose to elect three PN candidates and two Labour candidates – but the result was turned on its head, with three Labour candidates given a parliamentary seat instead.
For the past nearly four years we sat in court listening to members of the electoral commission admitting to their mistake, while a team led by Labour lawyers tried to prove that this mistake could not (and should not) be corrected.
Now that justice has prevailed, I feel a huge personal satisfaction. I can finally say that I was elected on my own steam. I did not need a mathematical equation to put me in Parliament.
In fact, once those 50 votes go under my name, I end up with 42 more votes than Edward Scicluna. This means that Minister Scicluna was NOT elected from two districts and Joe Debono Grech (who replaced Scicluna on the 8th district) should not even be a member of Parliament.
Of course, the courts could not reverse this result. The only option was to add two more seats to the PN side to make up for the huge injustice that prevailed for the past four years.
I take this opportunity to congratulate Edwin Vassallo and Peter Micallef for their return to Parliament and welcome them to our team.
While the court saga ended, matters in Parliament continued to heat up.
This week we saw how Jason Azzopardi’s respect for truth and his perseverance in standing up to it has led to another obscure ruling by the Speaker in Parliament.
Azzopardi has been found to be, prima facie, in breach of parliamentary privilege over comments he made about the Justice Minister, Owen Bonnici.
The logic of this ruling escapes me. Jason Azzopardi said that Owen Bonnici lied when he claimed that Henley & Partners were only receiving a commission on €650,000 contribution – but he said so OUTSIDE Parliament and in the public domain. He did this purposely to show he does not need the parliamentary privilege to protect him. If what he is saying is untrue, he can be sued for libel.
Something said outside of Parliament should not be subject to a ruling by the Speaker. There are the courts for that. Yet, on Wednesday, the Speaker asked Jason Azzopardi to withdraw or change his comments.
Azzopardi refused to budge, at which point Simon Busuttil stood up in his support and defence, asking to be treated in the same way. However, neither Owen Bonnici nor the Speaker took matters further against Simon Busuttil while Azzopardi will have to face the privileges committee.
In solidarity with Jason Azzopardi, and because I want to follow Simon Busuttil’s example, I reiterate that Owen Bonnici did not say the truth when he omitted to tell the Public Accounts Committee that Henley and Partners were also receiving commissions from the sale of Government bonds.
The famous American lawyer Clarence Darrow once wrote that “The pursuit of truth will set you free; even if you never catch up with it.” Over the past four years, Simon Busuttil has shown us that perseverance is a virtue which we must work on. The courts have given us justice. The truth will one day prevail.
The Malta Independent Friday 2 December 2016