Jason Azzopardi presents private member’s Bill ignored by Delia

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi pilots Bill to criminalise the use of private communication by public officials in the discharge of their duties • Claims Adrian Delia has been ignoring his proposal since 2017

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi
Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi

Jason Azzopardi is proposing a new law making it illegal for public officials to use private communication means in the discharge of their duties.

The Nationalist MP presented Speaker Anġlu Farrugia a private member’s Bill on Monday that would criminalise the use of “unofficial or unauthorised electronic resources” by public officials in the course of their duty.

The crime would carry with it a prison sentence of between one and eight years.

Azzopardi claimed in a Facebook post that PN leader Adrian Delia had ignored his proposal, first made in November 2017.

It is understood that Azzopardi received the go-ahead of Therese Comodini Cachia, the MP selected by a majority of the PN parliamentary group to act as their leader, to push forward with the proposal.

Azzopardi’s initiative comes on the back of criticism that had been levelled at former prime minister Joseph Muscat, who used a private email domain in the discharge of official duties.

Muscat’s use of his private email had also been the subject of criticism by the Auditor General since it could not be scrutinised.

Azzopardi’s amendment to the Criminal Code describes electronic resources as “every electronic device, means, instrument, or system enabling electronic messaging and telecommunication” that is not authorised by any public authority for the execution of official duty.

In a Facebook post, just after presenting the Bill to the Speaker, Azzopardi said that he had long proposed it to Opposition leader Adrian Delia for discussion in the parliamentary group but this was never taken up.

Azzopardi said that he repeatedly asked Delia to put the Bill on the agenda but his pleas were ignored.

“Because I believe this Bill provides a strong deterrent against corruption, I believe that I can no longer remain without an answer and I decided to wait no more,” he said, justifying its presentation.

But he also underscored the justification by insisting the time had come for him to show what work was done behind the scenes but which some wanted to remain hidden so that they could “feed the lie that he [Delia] was not allowed to work”.

Azzopardi added that he had presented more initiatives that were never taken up.