PM expects Cutajar to take responsibility over Yorgen chats: ‘No MP bigger than party, or country’

Prime Minister Robert Abela put up a less-than-sturdy defence of embattled Labour MP whose WhatsApp chats with Yorgen Fenech turned spotlight over Labour relations with alleged mastermind

Prime Minister Robert Abela with Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar at Auberge de Castille
Prime Minister Robert Abela with Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar at Auberge de Castille

Prime Minister Robert Abela could be expecting Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar to step aside, as he gave comments outside the Auberge de Castille where he put up a less-than-sturdy defence of his embattled MP.

“At the Labour conference, I sent a clear message that this government should not allow the good of last decade in power be tarnished by negative episodes... I am convinced that everyone recognises their responsibilities as MP, towards the parliamentary group, the Labour Party and the country as a whole,” Abela said.

The Labour MP, who was forced to resign from equality secretary after an ethics investigation detailing her role in a property brokerage for Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech, was back in the eye of scandal over the publication of her WhatsApp chats in 2019 with Fenech.

Abela refused to outrightly say that he would keep Cutajar in the Labour parliamentary group. “Nobody is greater than the party, or the country,” Abela said when asked by The Times whether he should tell Cutajar to step down from the House.

He said he had not spoken to the MP personally but underlined the fact that his public declarations, spoken as the prime minister, should read clearly.

“Two years ago, on similar details related to those chats, it was decided that Cutajar resigns from parliamentary secretary, and she paid the political price. I understand that some details in the chats are new – I have been clear, everyone must shoulder their responsibility.”

Abela said he still condemned the leak and publication of evidence that was within the control of the Criminal Court, as part of the charges brought against Fenech, accused of being the mastermind in the Caruana Galizia assassination.

Abela made reference to the fact that Cutajar was expecting a baby girl, now made public by the MP and her partner Daniel Farrugia in a Facebook post on her gender-reveal party, saying the Mark Camilleri publication was “vindictive”. Camilleri is being sued for defamaton by the MP, over the contents of his book ‘A Rentseeker’s Paradise’.

The Council of Europe’s parliamentary assembly’s (PACE) committee on rules of procedure had also voted in 2022 that there was a serious breach of its rules of conduct by Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar, when she failed to disclose a conflict of interest in speaking out against a public inquiry into the Caruana Galizia assassination.

Cutajar – who has since resigned her position as Labour MP delegate to the PACE – was accused of breaching ethics by Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt, for her close link with Yorgen Fenech when she used her seat at the Council of Europe to argue against the public inquiry.

A Standards inquiry by the Maltese parliamentary commissioner public standards for  came on the back of reports in MaltaToday and the Times that Cutajar had been promised a brokerage fee from the sale of an Mdina palazzo to Fenech, the man accused of having masterminded the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.