Well, well, it’s Consuelo…

I see her appointment as Judge to be only a matter of time

Well there was some news in the fact that Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera was elected on the first count by her colleagues to the Commission for the Administration of Justice.

Months before she had been reprimanded by the Commission after a list of complaints emanated from the writings of her former school friend, the late you-know-whom (her legacy certainly lives on…)

That her ‘courtly’ colleagues had the courage to vote for Scerri Herrera to the CAJ says more about them than about Consuelo Scerri Herrera.  Would they have taken the same vote if the vote had been before 16 October, 2017?

Their vote sends a very clear signal of defiance to Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri, who will be replaced in April and who failed to even make it to the European Court of Justice – not due to some political muzzling but rather because he failed to pass through the judicial examination process.

Scerri Herrera is praised for her judicial sentences and efficiency by many and in normal circumstances she would have been appointed judge because of her seniority and aptitude. However, she was not, for the simple reason that she was the focus of much gossip and unkind attention. Kindled, lest we forget, by a curious episode where a guest at her dinner party in Siggiewi (at Consuelo Scerri Herrera’s home) – namely the former hosts of Bondiplus – communicated to Daphne Caruana Galizia that the dinner party chit-chat had suggested that MaltaToday would be carrying a story on the couple’s matrimonial discord, namely a plate-throwing incident that led to a police report.

The truth is that MaltaToday was not following any matrimonial discord story, but that did not stop the frontal attack that went on for months on end. A rage that was not only cruel by all standards but beyond any form of common decency. This was not journalism – the attack was intended at tearing people’s emotions to shreds.

There were clear insinuations based on baseless speculation that Scerri Herrera used cocaine and that she drank excessively, and details about her relationship with Robert Musumeci. When Scerri Herrera sued for defamation, the magistrate presiding over the case was also taken to the cleaners. It was a tactic employed whenever someone standing in Caruana Galizia’s way had to be demolished. Ultimately Consuelo Scerri Herrera chickened out and retracted the defamation suit. Meanwhile, the PN media and the government added fuel to the fire. That was how Maltese journalism entered a dark chapter of its own,

I see her appointment as Judge to be only a matter of time

Understandably I was also dragged into the fray even though in my lifetime I have probably only exchanged just brief exchanges with Scerri Herrera, most of them in court where she has also found me guilty or fined me. I was not exactly in her good books after having written about her father, the late Judge Herrera.

The dinner guests at Scerri Herrera who ‘grassed’ on their host and shopped her to Caruana Galizia were left to their own devices and depicted as the good guys. As the unbelievable cruelty spilled onto the worldwide web, many followers from the self-conceited classes, enjoyed the schadenfreude and revelled in the obnoxious, malicious, punishing, nasty and pitiless comments that were printed online. It makes me wonder how such episodes of cruelty cannot colour the way certain people are depicted.

Other members of the judiciary could have been taken to task for their lifestyle, but they were not because they had not dared to step on the toes of the unassailable, ‘secret weapon’ co-opted by a political clique that enjoyed hitting out at its critics and those who stood in the way.

So, Consuelo Scerri Herrera has been elected by her peers to the Commission on the Administration of Justice. Her appointment as judge can only be a matter of time. I have no opinion about either appointment, but I cannot really argue against her choice considering the other members who have been selected.

More so, I believe that she deserves to be complimented in this way, considering the high regard she is held in by people who work with her in the courts of law.

This newspaper also ventured asking for a comment from the PN leader on her election to the CAJ that once rebuked her. He is after all, the shadow minister for justice now. Adrian Delia’s answer was that since she was elected by her peers, it was not a government-controlled decision, and he preferred not to comment. Someone still needs to tell him that the political arena is not the courtroom. Is this real politics or just a sequel of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

***

Friday morning and the front page of In-Nazzjon carried the story about former PN minister Ninu Zammit’s defamation cases against a number of Labour media personalities, amongst them former leader Alfred Sant.

In-Nazzjon lauded the courts’ decision but there was no mention that Ninu Zammit was a suspended member of the PN.

The interesting part is that Zammit has been persona non grata ever since he was outed in the Swissleaks exposé, and suspended by the Nationalist Party soon after being revealed to have had $3.2 million in a Swiss account which he never declared. That was well before Lawrence Gonzi had replaced Eddie Fenech Adami. He has since had his money repatriated.

When the PN was asked if Ninu Zammit’s suspension was being lifted, the PN said it was not and explained that the front-page story simply illustrated the lies of the PL. Of course, the same could be said to when the court decides to declare PN stories to be defamatory. But then the Nazzjon does not carry front pages exposing such decisions – for obvious partisan reasons.

The truth is that Adrian Delia wants to rebuild the Nationalist Party by embracing the old faces of the past that rattled the party when it was at its prime. Little does Delia know that what the party needs and what this country needs is some new blood and ideas and not a return to the past. Ninu Zammit’s Swiss account story at the time only proved one point: that the high moral ground that so many politicians held once upon a time, was only the fruit of our imagination.

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