MUMN boss wants compensation for his own misdeeds, State Advocate says in counter-protest

Journalistic work is exempt from GDPR and revelations of wrongdoing are protected by the Whistle-blower Act, counter-protest argues

MUMN President Paul Pace
MUMN President Paul Pace

The Health Ministry and senior management figures at Malta’s public hospitals have rubbished a union boss’ threat of legal action to claim damages for leaks after news of disciplinary proceedings against him hit the headlines.

Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN) president Paul Pace is currently the subject of an internal investigation into possible overtime abuse, after allegedly claiming overtime at his workplace in Mount Carmel Hospital at a time when he was actually on holiday in Egypt. 

News of the disciplinary proceedings against Pace, launched as a result of allegations made by Labour media pundit Manuel Cuschieri, had been leaked to Sunday Times of Malta by someone who “evidently had all the relative information about those proceedings,” Pace said. MaltaToday had been the first to report that the agreement was being delayed by an investigation.

In a counter-protest to last week’s judicial protest filed by Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN) president Paul Pace, the Health Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, the chief executives of the Mount Carmel and Mater Dei hospitals and Data Controller at Mater Dei rebutted Pace’s claims. 

They said they were “perplexed as to how [Pace] filed an admission during disciplinary proceedings where he admitted to unjustifiedly enriching himself by thousands of euro to the prejudice of the Government of Malta, he is now requesting the liquidation of damages he allegedly suffered because, according to him, the revealing of his actions in the media caused him damages.

“Effectively, the damages which [Pace] is complaining about are the consequences of his own actions.”

Part of the EU GDPR regulations cited by Pace is a derogation which exempts “processing carried out for journalistic purposes” from the necessity to comply with the regulations, pointed out the lawyers, arguing that this meant his argument was “unfounded in fact and at law” and that Pace “certainly cannot use the Regulation cited to cover up illegal activity that is [contrary to] the public interest.”

Additionally, the lawyers pointed out that under the Whistleblower Act, the informant who revealed the alleged wrongdoing is protected from civil, criminal and disciplinary proceedings for having done so.

Pace had demanded an investigation into how confidential information from his personnel records had ended up in the hands of Labour Party talk show host Manuel Cuschieri and the press. Pace is claiming that the leak to Cuschieri, who then proceeded to broadcast this information on the radio and television, had been done “in flagrant breach of data protection law and possibly other laws.” 

In the original judicial protest, Pace pointed out that the story was published the day after an absolute majority of MUMN members had approved the new sectoral agreement, which both he and the Office of the Prime Minister had been praising.

State Advocate Chris Soler, lawyer Christian Ellul and lawyer Alex Sciberras signed the counter-protest.