Case reports

Case reports by the Standards Commissioner

The Commissioner for Standards in Public Life can investigate cases on his own initiative or in response to complaints. Each investigation normally results in the preparation of a case report that sets out the Commissioner’s findings and conclusions.

Case reports can be drawn up in either Maltese or English. Where an investigation is based on a complaint, the case report will usually be written in whichever of Malta’s two official languages is used by the complainant. Occasionally a case report may be issued in both languages, and in this case the Maltese version should prevail in the event of any discrepancies between the two versions of the same report.

As a general rule, the Commissioner’s case reports are published once cases are closed. The Commissioner can close cases himself, either because no misconduct has occurred or because the person responsible for the misconduct takes action to resolve it in accordance with the Commissioner’s directions. Alternatively, the Commissioner can forward his case report for further consideration by Parliament’s Standards Committee. Such a case is closed once the Committee has decided on it.

All reports published so far can be accessed from the list below.

Case report K/021 | Date issued: 2 November 2020 | Language: English
Subject of complaint: Opposition MPs who work in the public sector
Allegation: Absenteeism from work.
Outcome: The report does not address individual cases but finds that the practice of permitting MPs who work in the public sector to attend parliamentary activities during office hours is being abused. The report recommends measures to curtail the abuse and calls for MPs to be given the option of serving on a full-time basis.

Case report K/022 | Date issued: 5 October 2020 | Language: Maltese and English
Subject of complaint: former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Allegation: Abuse of power in the engagement of former minister Konrad Mizzi as a consultant with the Malta Tourism Authority.
Outcome: The Commissioner upheld the complaint and referred the case to the Standards Committee for its consideration. The Committee authorised the publication of the Commissioner’s case report on 14 October 2020.

Case report K/024 | Date issued: 1 September 2020 | Language: English
Subject of complaint: Dr Joseph Borg, a former person of trust in the Ministry for Home Affairs
Allegation: Posting of political and offensive comments on Facebook.
Outcome: The Commissioner upheld the complaint and closed the case on the basis of an apology from Dr Borg.

Case report K/020 | Date issued: 17 July 2020 | Language: English
Subject of complaint: former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Allegation: Acceptance of hospitality including first-class airline tickets to Dubai for the Prime Minister and his family.
Outcome: Complaint not upheld by the Commissioner.

Case report K/019 | Date issued: 1 July 2020 | Language: Maltese
Subject of complaint: former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Allegation: Acceptance of gift of three bottles of wine worth €5,800.
Outcome: The Commissioner upheld the complaint and referred the case to the Standards Committee for its consideration. The Committee authorised the publication of the Commissioner’s case report on 3 July 2020 and endorsed the report on 22 July 2020. On 17 August the Committee agreed to treat a letter from Dr Joseph Muscat dated 14 August 2020 as an apology for the purposes of article 28(d)(ii) of the Standards in Public Life Act, and it closed the case on this basis.

Case report K/015 | Date issued: 22June 2020 | Language: Maltese
Subject of complaint: Minister Ian Borg
Allegation: Defiance of an order to halt illegal works in Wied Qirda.
Outcome: Complaint not upheld by the Commissioner.

Case report K/018 | Date issued: 8 June 2020 | Language: Maltese
Subject of complaint: Josef Caruana, PQ Officer, Office of the Prime Minister
Allegation: Publication on Facebook of the identity card numbers of persons who signed a petition calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
Outcome: The Commissioner upheld the complaint and closed the case on the basis that Mr Caruana had immediately removed the data in question. This, together with a finding of improper conduct by the Information and Data Protection Commissioner, who had also investigated the case, constituted a sufficient remedy.

Case report K/010 | Date issued: 7 May 2020 | Language: English
Subject of complaint: Ministers and parliamentary secretaries
Allegation: Use of public funds in the production of content for the personal social media pages of ministers and parliamentary secretaries.
Outcome: The report does not address individual cases but finds that it is widespread practice for ministers to use public resources in the generation of content for their personal social media pages. The report sets out guidelines that are intended to avoid misuse of public resources and states that the government has already agreed that ministers should observe the guidelines.

Case report K/013 | Date issued: 24 March 2020 | Language: Maltese
Subject of complaint: Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli
Allegation: Conferment of an improper advantage on a private firm through promotional videos shot in the Office of the Prime Minister and featuring the Parliamentary Secretary.
Outcome: The Commissioner upheld the complaint and closed the case after the videos were removed from the internet.

Case report K/012 | Date issued: 5 February 2020 | Language: Maltese
Subjects of complaint: Ministers Chris Cardona and Konrad Mizzi
Allegation: Preferential treatment of an entrepreneur in return for political support.
Outcome: Investigation inconclusive in the case of Chris Cardona MP. Complaint not upheld by the Commissioner in the case of Konrad Mizzi MP. (Dr Cardona and Dr Mizzi had ceased to hold office as ministers by the time the investigation was concluded.)

Case report K/016 | Date issued: 24 January 2020 | Language: English
Subject of complaint: Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Allegation: Discrimination in the issue of invitations to media houses for press events.
Outcome: Complaint upheld by the Commissioner, who considered the case closed as a result of Prime Minister Muscat’s resignation on 13 January 2020.

Case report K/008 | Date issued: 2 December 2019 | Language: Maltese and English
Subject of complaint: Minister Konrad Mizzi
Allegation: Misuse of public resources through the use of public funds to maintain and generate content for the Minister’s personal Facebook page.
Outcome: Complaint upheld by the Commissioner, who considered the case closed as a result of the Minister’s resignation for unrelated reasons on 26 November 2019.

Case report K/014 | Date issued: 21 November 2019 | Language: English
Subject of complaint: Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Allegation: Misuse of public funds to finance legal costs for the defence of personal interests.
Outcome: Complaint not upheld by the Commissioner.

Case report K/011 | Date issued: 4 October 2019 | Language: Maltese
Subject of complaint: Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Allegation: Publication of a misleading press statement concerning the salaries of ministers and parliamentary secretaries.
Outcome: Complaint not upheld by the Commissioner.

Case report K/007 | Date issued: 16 September 2019 | Language: English
Subject of complaint: Minister Owen Bonnici
Allegation: Publication of a press statement of a political nature through the Department of Information.
Outcome: Complaint not upheld, but the Commissioner reiterated the call he made in a previous report (K/004) for ministers to avoid issuing statements of a partisan nature through the DOI.

Case report K/005 | Date issued: 6 September 2019 | Language: Maltese
Subject of complaint: Minister Owen Bonnici
Allegation: Delay in consideration of an application for leave of absence from Mount Carmel Hospital as a result of deliberate discrimination.
Outcome: Complaint not upheld by the Commissioner. This report is being published with redactions to avoid identifying the complainant.

Case report K/004 | Date issued: 9 August 2019 | Language: English
Subject of complaint: Minister Konrad Mizzi
Allegation: Publication through the Department of Information of a press statement that was inappropriate in tone and content.
Outcome: The Commissioner upheld the complaint and closed the case after Minister Mizzi agreed to direct his officials not to make use of the Department of Information for private or partisan matters in future.

Case report K/002 | Date issued: 5 July 2019 | Language: Maltese and English
Subject of complaint: Backbench members of Parliament who hold positions within or provide contractual services to the public sector
Allegation: Conflict of interest.
Outcome: The report finds that two thirds of all backbench MPs hold appointments in or contracts with the public sector. The report does not address individual cases but concludes that the engagement of backbenchers by the government is fundamentally wrong and calls for an end to this practice.

Case report K/003 | Date issued: 12 April 2019 | Language: English
Subject of complaint: Alessandro Mangion, Private Secretary, Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion
Allegation: Use of offensive language against a member of an international NGO.
Outcome: The Commissioner upheld the complaint and closed the case after Mr Mangion made an apology on his directions.

Case report K/006 | Date issued: 2 April 2019 | Language: Maltese
Subject of complaint: Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Allegation: Unethical behaviour and misuse of state property for party political purposes.
Outcome: Complaint not upheld by the Commissioner.

Case report K/001 | Date issued: 4 February 2019 | Language: English
Subject of complaint: Minister Konrad Mizzi
Allegation: Discriminatory treatment of the media in invitations to official press events.
Outcome: Complaint not upheld by the Commissioner, but the Minister accepted his recommendation to invite all media to major press events in future.

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Annual reports by the Commissioner