Updated | Joe Cassar resigns from shadow cabinet

After revelations by MaltaToday, Simon Busuttil says “it is clear that Joe Cassar cannot remain as a member of the shadow government”

Opposition MP Joe Cassar has today resigned as a member of the shadow government following revelations by MaltaToday which uncovered how Joe Gaffarena paid an €8,150 bill for construction works carried out at the Nationalist MP's Dingli home.

In a statement, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said that after meeting with the former health minister, “unfortunately it is clear that Cassar cannot remain as a member of the shadow government at this period.”

“I have therefore accepted his resignation from his responsibility as Opposition Spokesperson on Culture," Busuttil said.

The PN leader also said that Cassar had informed him that he is taking “legal advice in order to defend his name.”

Earlier, in an interview on Radio 101, Busuttil said he was of the opinion that there was "an error of judgement" on behalf of Cassar and he would now listen to what the MP has to say "before deciding what decision needs to be taken".

A receipt published by MaltaToday confirms that the works were carried out at a time when Cassar was health minister, implying that he should have declared Gaffarena's financing as a gift. The news comes only three days after the MP used parliament's adjournment to deny any allegations of gifts or donations from Joe Gaffarena.

"It is this government's practice to divert attention from the real scandals by pointing towards something that happened in the past. But I won't allow Joseph Muscat to think he can blackmail the Nationalist Party ... I am here to to distance this party from its past and I am here to set new standards."

Busuttil added that Cassar and Gaffarena had "a private relationship". During an interview yesterday morning, Busuttil vouched for the MP's integrity.

The PN leader insisted that the government's tactic was to divert attention from its own scandals: "By using Cassar it tries to imply that the Opposition should keep its mouth shut."
He said, that he will not rest until all scandals of the Labour administration are uncovered.

"This government will lose elections because of the sleaze and corruption while we will continue to show that politicians can work differently."

Busuttil said "so many stories were revealed this week it's really hard to keep up with all of them", as he focused on an alleged visa racket where 7,000 residence visas were issued to Algerian nationals.

Calling for an inquiry, the PN leader said the whole thing "stank" after it transpired that the consulate was headed by Robert Falzon, the cousin of the Prime Minister's father.

He reiterated his call for the resignation of Identity Malta executive chairman Joe Vella Bonnici following a widespread racket in the issuance of visas. Only this week, the Police arraigned five individuals charged with bribery.

"I have no doubt that more issues will be uncovered ... Even if this government stops its corruption now, it has done enough to last a whole legislature."

Busuttil went on to add that "this government's worst scandals" all saw the involvement of the. Lands Department, which falls within the portfolio of the Office of the Prime Minister.

The PN leader said it was the Opposition's duty to flag the irregularities being carried out by the government, and which have been investigated by the Auditor General, including the General Workers Union's lease agreement with ARMS Ltd, in breach of contract.