Ex-police chief Lawrence Cutajar’s 109-word resignation letter tabled in Parliament

Former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar’s resignation letter: ‘Despite the criticism… we managed to solve several major cases’

Former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar
Former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar

Lawrence Cutajar’s resignation letter was short but the former police commissioner made it a point to highlight the successes in solving several major crimes in his term.

The letter was tabled in Parliament by Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri on Monday in reply to a question by Opposition MP Karol Aquilina.

The letter dated 17 January is just 109 words long, including the formalities such as address and date.

Cutajar told the minister that during his long career in the police force, he always placed the interests of justice, the corps, and its members, first.

He also emphasised police successes under his tenure.

“As you know, over the past few months the police made great strides forward in one of the biggest cases ever witnessed in Malta,” Cutajar wrote, in a clear reference to the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder case.

“Despite the criticism that I and the police force received during investigations, we managed to solve several major cases,” Cutajar said.

In his parting shot, Cutajar said he understood that the appointment of a new prime minister demanded changes so that the desired reforms can start.

“It is for this reason that I am informing you of my resignation,” Cutajar ended his letter.

The former police commissioner resigned four days after Robert Abela was sworn in as prime minister. The resignation was announced by Abela in a press conference but the letter had not been published at the time.

Cutajar was instead given a three-year consultancy contract by the Home Affairs Ministry on public safety and logistics with a total yearly package worth €31,000. The appointment was criticised by the Opposition that accused Abela of having learnt nothing from the mistakes of his predecessor.

Cutajar, who served as police commissioner for three-and-a-half years faced repeated calls for his resignation by civil society groups that accused him of not doing enough to investigate and bring to justice people close to power, who faced serious accusations of money laundering.

New method of appointment

Deputy Police Commissioner Carmelo Magri was appointed acting police commissioner pending the introduction of a new method of appointment.

Government is proposing ditching the decades-old tradition of having the police commissioner chosen by the prime minister, through a public call administered by the Public Service Commission.

The commission will short-list the candidates to two and give the prime minister two names to choose from. The selected candidate will then have to undergo a parliamentary grilling and a simple majority in the committee would allow the prime minister to appoint the individual.

The Opposition has proposed an alternative means of appointment that seeks a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament, which would force the government to seek consensus on a name.

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