Rosianne Cutajar resigns from PL parliamentary group, to stay on as independent

Rosianne Cutajar has informed the Labour leader that she is resigning from the parliamentary group and staying on as an independent MP • Cutajar: 'I do not want to be a burden on anyone'

Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar
Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar

Rosianne Cutajar has resigned from the Labour Party parliamentary group but will stay on as an independent MP.

In a statement published on Monday by the PL, just minutes before the start of an executive committee meeting that had to determine her future, the party said Cutajar informed Robert Abela of her decision to resign from the parliamentary group.

The party said Cutajar also informed the Prime Minister she would stay on as an independent MP. The email Cutajar sent Abela and copied to PL President Ramona Attard was published by the party.

Meanwhile, in a Facebook post, Cutajar described the events that led to her resignation as an "inhuman, vindictive and personal attack" by someone who breached a court order and "escaped from the country". The reference was to blogger Mark Camilleri. She said nothing new came out of this "attack".

"Suddenly, after the usual insistence by some, pressure started mounting on me to shoulder some form of political responsibility for the second time. I asked what had changed and was not given an answer. But I do not want to be a burden on anyone. This is why, with a heavy heart, I inform you that I will no longer form part of the Labour parliamentary group and will continue to serve in parliament as an independent MP, free but consistent with my Labour principles," Cutajar wrote.

She promised to remain vociferous and available to the people, while taking care of her health, her new family and her professional life.

Reactions to Cutajar resignation: Robert Abela doesn’t have guts to face own MPs - Bernard Grech

Cutajar’s future as a Labour MP was to be discussed by the party’s executive at a meeting on Monday evening.

Sources close to the PL had told MaltaToday that Cutajar was given an ultimatum by Prime Minister Robert Abela last week to resign or else be kicked out by the executive.

Abela's decision came in the wake of the publication of damning WhatsApp exchanges between Cutajar and murder suspect Yorgen Fenech from 2019. In one exchange, Cutajar told Fenech she would seek a consultancy with the Institute for Tourism Studies to emulate everyone else, presumably from the PL, who was acting like a pig at the trough. She did in fact get an ITS consultancy.

While some executive members and MPs believed Cutajar's wrongdoing is not comparable to what led to Konrad Mizzi being axed from the party in 2020 - corruption allegations involving Enemalta's investment in a Montenegro windfarm - they believed she should have stepped down.

"What has emerged from the chats has definitely hurt the party. Rosianne Cutajar must admit to her mistakes and step away unless she wants a showdown in the executive," the sources said.

There was wide consensus within the executive that Cutajar should resign but the embattled MP had been insisting with people close to her on staying on. It appears she has finally given in to the pressure.

The storm erupted after author and blogger Mark Camilleri published a transcript of unredacted Whatsapp chats between Cutajar and alleged Daphne Caruana Galizia murder mastermind Yorgen Fenech.

The chats suggest a very intimate relationship between Cutajar and Fenech as they flirt with each other.

Most of the information contained in the chats was already flagged in past reports dealing with Cutajar's conflict of interest as a result of her secretive intimate relationship with Fenech.

The exchanges show that at the same time Cutajar was arguing against a Council of Europe resolution on Malta in which Fenech's Dubai company 17 Black was also flagged, she was receiving money and expensive gifts from him that were never declared. This was before Fenech was charged with Caruana Galizia's murder but after he was outed as owner of 17 Black.

Prime Minister Robert Abela said last week that every MP in the government’s parliamentary group “recognises their responsibility”.

“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.

He 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 journalists whether he should tell Cutajar to step down from the House.

Similar words had been uttered by Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne in parliament when the House was discussing the estimates of the health ministry.

Cutajar had already been forced to resign from equality parliamentary secretary in 2021 after an ethics investigation detailing her role as a broker of sorts in a property deal involving Yorgen Fenech.

An inquiry by the Standards Commissioner came on the back of reports in MaltaToday and the Times of Malta that Cutajar had been promised a brokerage fee from the sale of an Mdina palazzo to Fenech.

PN accuses Abela of weakness

The Nationalist Party has meanwhile accused Robert Abela of weakness, insisting he should have axed Cutajar immediately. "Robert Abela's weakness and Rosianne Cutajar's scandalous behaviour are damaging the country's reputation," the PN said.

It added that after defending Cutajar, the Prime Minister then said that nobody is greater than the country and yet still failed to remove her.