Speaker and Clerk of the House hit back at Repubblika claims

Speaker files judicial protest over NGO Repubblika claims they were denied access to parliament’s Strangers’ Gallery

Speaker Anglu Farrugia
Speaker Anglu Farrugia

The Speaker and Clerk of the House have countered a court filing by Repubblika, who presented a judicial protest last week over the denial of their access to the Strangers’ Gallery in Parliament.

The Speaker refuted allegations of having blocked access to parliament to Repubblika activists.

The judicial protest, filed on Friday against Speaker Anglu Farrugia and Clerk of the House Raymond Scicluna and signed by lawyers Paul Borg Olivier and Eve Borg Costanzi, argued that the pandemic was a “weak excuse” to deny citizens their right to observe the debates and legislative process in person.

In their counter-protest, filed this afternoon by lawyers Prof. Ian Refalo and lawyer John Refalo, Farrugia and Scicluna rebutted the claims, saying they were "completely unfounded and baseless".

It was not true that the Speaker and the Clerk of the House were “scheming to deny all access to the public in the Strangers’ Gallery”, argued the lawyers, saying that they were instrumental to the introduction of broadcasting of House debates on radio and television.

The debates could be followed “even from Australia” highlighted the Speaker and Clerk, adding that access was always granted to members of the media whose job it was to report on parliamentary debates.

The Speaker was bound by the unanimous decision of 5 October, 2020, to close off public access to the gallery except for journalists, he said, arguing that this decision was still binding.

Standing Order 165 of the House states that no extraneous person is admissible by right, the lawyers said, arguing that the decision by the Speaker was in line with the House regulations and agreements in force.

The counter-protest discourages the original complainant from taking further steps and refutes “with all strength” the allegations made against the Speaker and Clerk of the house.

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