Speaker’s son-in-law has ‘person of trust’ job in the House

Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia refutes suggestions that the employment of his son-in-law - the husband of nominated magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo - at the House of Representatives was a matter of family affinity

Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia has refuted suggestions that the employment of his son-in-law at the House of Representatives in 2014 was a matter of family affinity.

Eric Frendo, 33, was employed as a librarian at the House of Representatives on 1 January, 2014, with a salary set at Scale 13, which pays a maximum €17,000 salary.

Farrugia, a former deputy leader of the Labour Party, has confirmed that Frendo was employed in his secretariat on a person-of-trust basis. But he disputed any suggestion of nepotism.

Farrugia denied that “any kinship existed” on the date when Frendo was employed, which was just prior to his marriage to Farrugia’s daughter Caroline – who today carries the double-barrelled surname Farrugia Frendo.

“Upon his appointment, he was assigned to library duties, which he is performing with due diligence. The salary tied to this assignment is that of salary scale 13,” Farrugia said of Frendo’s annually renewable contract.

As a Labour MP and deputy leader Farrugia had been a foremost critic of the Nationalist government’s largesse to persons close to Lawrence Gonzi’s inner core. As early as 2010, upon being elected to Labour’s top posts, he promised to play a part “in building a country that will go from one troubled by corruption, to a society based on social justice and meritocracy.”

Frendo’s wife Caroline Farrugia Frendo is set to be appointed magistrate within the coming weeks. She was nominated by the government at the beginning of February, garnering controversy for the fact that she was at least a month short of the minimum seven years of being a lawyer to qualify for the magistrates’ bench.

MaltaToday has reported that Farrugia Frendo’s nomination was a sop to her father after he made it clear to his close associates that he was interested in being nominated by the government to be a member of the European Court of Auditors.

Her nomination came just days after Prime Minister Joseph Muscat picked the deputy leader for party affairs, Toni Abela, for the Luxembourg posting.

Farrugia then laughed off a direct question on the matter from The Sunday Times a week after MaltaToday’s report. “You know me well enough,” he said, opting out of a clear denial.

The nomination of Farrugia’s daughter to a post that grants her security of tenure for 32 years has only raised questions over the Labour administration’s style in keeping harmonious relations among the top brass.

Farrugia was unceremoniously asked to step aside as deputy leader in December 2012 – on the eve of a general election – and make way for a new deputy leader, after a disastrous TV performance against his Nationalist counterpart, then PN deputy leader Simon Busuttil. Farrugia, who said the move was an act of “political murder”, was later appointed Speaker shortly after Labour was elected in March 2013.

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