PN accuses government of holding up discussion on Castille journalist lock-up report

The Nationalist Party says parliament’s Standards Committee has had the ethics report compiled by the Standards Commissioner for over a week but a date has not been set for its discussion

In November journalists were kept locked up inside Castille by government functionaries
In November journalists were kept locked up inside Castille by government functionaries

The Nationalist Party has called on parliament’s Standards Committee to urgently discuss George Hyzler’s report on the incident at Castille where journalists were prevented from leaving a room after a press conference in November 2019.

The party said the report was handed to the committee by the Standards Commissioner on 11 February, yet no meeting has been called. Speaker Anġlu Farrugia chairs the committee which also includes two government and two Opposition MPs.

The PN said this meeting was urgent since it would decide whether the report should be published and adopted. If necessary, the committee would also decide what sanctions should be imposed.

“This request was made again on Friday 19 February 2021 with Speaker Anġlu Farrugia suggesting several dates for the meeting to take place. So far, the government members have not confirmed that they are ready to attend and participate in this meeting,” the party said.

Despite the request having been made more than once, the PN said that no date or time had been set, even though it has made themselves available for this meeting to take place.

“We confirm that Speaker Anġlu Farrugia is doing his best to hold this meeting as soon as possible, but the members of the government are not cooperating,” the PN said.

The party said it was clear that members of the government do not want the report on the case to be urgently discussed and are trying to thwart the standing committee's work on standards in public life.

“Members of the Government are doing their utmost to protect Joseph Muscat as they have already done in other cases that have been investigated and decided by the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life,” the party said.

The PN said it was once again calling for the committee to discuss the report immediately.

The incident goes back to November 2019 when Muscat called an urgent Cabinet meeting at the dead of night to discuss a pardon request made by Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech. Fenech had just been arrested and was being interrogated by the police as a person of interest in the assassination.

The prime minister held a press conference in the early hours of the morning. After the press conference journalists were prevented from leaving the room.