Rosianne Cutajar fumes after Abela moves goalposts with apology demand

Robert Abela’s new apology demand on Rosianne Cutajar was never raised in any Cabinet or parliamentary group meeting

Rosianne Cutajar has been sitting as an independent MP after she was forced to resign from the Labour Party last year
Rosianne Cutajar has been sitting as an independent MP after she was forced to resign from the Labour Party last year

Rosianne Cutajar was left fuming after Robert Abela “moved the goalposts” and publicly demanded an apology from her to be admitted back to the Labour Party. 

The Prime Minister’s latest condition has angered the independent MP, who was hoping to return to the PL after Abela opened the door last January. 

But sources close to the Qormi MP say that after being left in the dark for more than two months, Cutajar was angered by the demand for an apology, which was never on the cards. 

In comments to journalists last week, Abela said that to be readmitted into the Labour parliamentary group, Cutajar must apologise. No such condition had been made in January when Abela said Cutajar had paid her dues after being forced to resign last year. 

Cutajar remained an independent MP but her possible return to the PL remains uncertain. 

Sources in Cutajar’s Qormi constituency said the PM’s comments did not go down well and described this as “another case of Robert Abela shifting the goalposts”. 

The sources said Abela’s original demands for Cutajar’s return to the parliamentary group were two-fold: She writes to the party’s executive explicitly asking them to be allowed back into the parliamentary group, and that she drops her defamation proceedings in court against Mark Camilleri, who published the chats on his blog. 

“She did both of those things, and now out of nowhere, she is faced with another demand from his end,” a source close to the MP who spoke to this newspaper said. “She is fuming and rightly so.” 

A minister speaking anonymously said Abela’s new apology demand was never raised in any Cabinet or parliamentary group meeting. 

“I and most of the parliamentary group learned of Robert Abela’s demand for an apology through the media. It came as a surprise to us,” the minister said, describing the demand as “demeaning and patronising.” 

“I mean, yes, she made a mistake, and I agree that what she did was wrong, but let’s be realistic, others before her and after her have done much worse, and they only got a slap on the wrist,” the minister said. “He cannot continue humiliating her like this.” 

Another source close to the Labour Party said the move has done little to reignite grassroot support in Cutajar’s home district. “People from outside the party will say that he absolved her for her ‘sins’, while people from inside the party will say that he has, once again, gone back on his word,” the source said. 

Cutajar was forced to resign from the parliamentary group in April 2023 in the wake of mounting criticism after the publication of leaked WhatsApp exchanges between Cutajar and Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech from 2019. 

In one exchange, Cutajar told Fenech – then not yet charged with the journalist’s assassination – that she would seek a paid consultancy with the Institute for Tourism Studies to emulate ‘everyone else pigging at the trough’ – ostensibly a reference to others in the PL. 

Cutajar had resigned as parliamentary secretary before the 2022 election pending an ethics probe over the receipt of brokerage fees from a property sale involving Fenech. She subsequently contested the election and was elected but forced to resign from the PL last year. 

Her ITS job was slammed by the National Audit Office after an investigation concluded the consultancy was “illegitimate” and had breached regulations.