A lawyer walks into the courtroom...

Obviously at a distance, the fact that he is not a pedigree Nationalist but the son of former Labour politician, means this lad has long been guilty by association, the minute his father chose a political career with Labour. Now the story can be milked dry... 

Earlier this week, the Chamber of Advocates and the Caruana Galizia family hit out at the sudden appearance of Charles Mercieca – a young lawyer – in the courts together with Gianluca Caruana Curran, who is defending Yorgen Fenech, the man suspected of masterminding the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.  

Mercieca was until some days ago employed with the Attorney General’s office and is the son of a former parliamentary secretary in the Muscat administration. According to AG Peter Grech, he was never assigned to the Fenech case. But that of course is his word against all the speculation in the world. 

That in itself was news, and good reason to raise one’s antennae. Yet the truth is that revolving doors is the norm with many professions in Malta, and lawyers are no exception, especially those seeking a career and more money.  

Charles Mercieca was recruited by Guido De Marco & Associates or lawyers working closely with the firm. They serve Yorgen Fenech as a client through Gianluca Caruana Curran, one of the De Marco scions, who has his office in the same block of De Marco and Associates.  

This angle did not feature very high in any of the news stories. The firm has every right to employ anyone they wish or seek. The fact that one of their leading partners, Mario De Marco, is a Nationalist MP (the former deputy leader) and directly linked to the Times of Malta through the Strickland Foundation, has not stopped them from taking up this controversial brief.  

Obviously at a distance, the fact that he is not a pedigree Nationalist but the son of former Labour politician, means this lad has long been guilty by association, the minute his father chose a political career with Labour. Now the story can be milked dry...

Mario De Marco has every right to get on with his business, as most lawyers do, but he knows that he cannot have the cake and eat it. For if there is one thing that does not reign supreme in the lexicon of most lawyers, it surely has to be the complete disregard for the problem of revolving doors and conflicts of interest. 

Charles Mercieca did pretty much what other young ambitious lawyer would do, that is go for better pay and opportunities. And damn the rest. 

Obviously at a distance, the fact that he is not a pedigree Nationalist but the son of former Labour politician, means this lad has long been guilty by association, the minute his father chose a political career with Labour. Now the story can be milked dry... 

Chamber of Advocates president Louis Degabriele, of all people, should know what I am talking about. Lawyers yearning to be successful are willing to serve anyone and anything, as long as it pays. 

The fact is Charles Mercieca did not go to Yorgen Fenech for a job – neither did Fenech go to him with an offer. Mercieca was asked to join a team. 

So before we start seeing a conspiracy everywhere, why don’t we ask for the simple facts. Most people, whether journalists, police officers and lawyers, will always jump ship for a better job and salary. Those that don’t usually have a different way of looking at the world. 

 

*** 

 

This Friday, PN leader Adrian Delia visited the offices of PBS. He was accompanied by Francis Zammit Dimech and Therese Comodini Cachia.  

They raised the issue of impartial reporting and of course their concerns. 

To say that PBS is perfect would be erroneous. And before I declare that I have a discussion programme on TVM, I think that I have an opinion on the subject that I would like to share. 

I have been on PBS since 1999, removed twice because I challenged the powers that be, and I have clashed with the political masters that controlled PBS. Adrian Delia was of course not around when PBS was dominated by a newsroom heavily influenced by what Castille said, overshadowed by the censored reportage and political bias of Lou Bondì, who repeatedly used his programme to promote the political agenda of the Nationalist Party and hit out at anyone that stood in their way. 

Then no one dared raise a finger of objection, not one. Not The Times, not the Independent, not NET, not even the gladiatorial opinionists of late.  

Only when Bondì unceremoniously embraced Joseph Muscat after 2013, did it suddenly dawn on some what PBS had had become. 

There were no delegations by the Nationalist Party to the boardroom of PBS between 1987 and 2013. If anyone wants to really compare the quality of the news, then one should really take a closer look at the news reportage under the Head of News before 2013 and the news now. To be precise I am referring to Natalino Fenech (who until recently was still receiving a head of news salary despite being out of the newsroom); compare him to the present head of news Reno Bugeja.  

Everyone knows the answer.  

A cursory look at the newsroom will show that many of the top reporters have roots inside Net TV. They do a damn great job: one of the best documentary reporters at PBS is Mario Xuereb. 

Adrian Delia told PBS that political parties should close down their stations. He was of course talking to the wrong audience. His suggestion need sto be relayed to Robert Abela. But with Abela soaring in the polls, it is very unlikely that he will even sit down to entertain Delia’s demands, which will simply be seen as a ploy to close down the PN’s own commercial operation which has drained the party’s finances. 

What he needs to do is to sit down and talk about broadcasting across the board. Then maybe someone will start taking this discussion about impartiality a little more seriously. 

 

*** 

 

Charmaine Gauci’s demands for social distancing and her praise of the Maltese respect for social distancing is being extra kind to the Maltese and Gozitans. With such low infection rates, only one yesterday, people are meeting up, friends getting together, hairdressers visiting clients in their homes, weekends bursting with cars in the streets, and people and families intermingling. 

Yesterday on the eve of Mother’s day, gift shops, florists and garden centres were swarming with customers. 

Surely the health authorities have done their part and should be given full recognition for this. But with such low infection rates, we need to realise that in certain sectors we need to get back to some kind of normality. 

We cannot wait until October. 

Surely school attendance is a case in point. And though comparisons are odious, with other countries having partial openings of schools tomorrow Monday, and I am referring to France and Belgium, we in Malta have to look at the bigger picture by taking into consideration the numbers of infected. 

Thousands of children being denied a full blown education and retaining pressure on families and parents is not to be underestimated. The same applies to the partial opening of hotels and restaurants under supervised conditions. We need to be creative. We cannot run away from our responsibility to fight the spread of COVID-19, but life must go on.  

Not everyone is vunerable, more so in a contained environment where infections have been very low and where inward traffic from abroad is nil. 

Vunerable groups need to be protected and if need be, obliged to follow serious protocols, but it is crucial that the country starts to find some form of normality. With such low infection and mortality rates we can afford to think out of the box. 

More in Blogs