Labour MP Robert Abela gets Air Malta legal brief

Labour MP Robert Abela was appointed by the national airline following a public request for quotations, and adds this new legal brief to the Planning Authority brief he inherited from his father

Robert Abela
Robert Abela

Labour MP Robert Abela was paid €10,265 for legal services rendered to Air Malta in 2016, a parliamentary question by Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi has revealed.

Abela, whose firm also provides legal services to the Planning Authority, told MaltaToday he had answered a public call and that none of the competing tenderers had appealed the decision.

The ministry for tourism said that Abela was appointed by the national airline after a public request for quotations, based on rates and technical competence on industrial relations.

But Abela did not take kindly to Jason Azzopardi’s probing, whose PQs on Abela were made to each individual ministry. “All these PQs came since I refused to drop a PA warrant for the removal of the PN’s illegal billboards, which the courts upheld.

The PQs have increased since the PAC was convened on the Spinola transfer,” Abela said of his role on the public accounts committee’s inquiry into a St Julian’s land transfer, when Azzopardi was parliamentary secretariat for public lands.

Jason Azzopardi retorted that his PQs were tabled back in June, four months before the PAC sessions. “It’s evident this multi-tasker is not content with his PA consultancy, but is getting paid for consultancies to Transport Malta and the tourism ministry. Doesn’t he agree that the public ought to be told how this champagne socialist is being paid for work which should not be the monopoly of a select group of people close to Castille?”

For 18 years now, the PA has retained the services of Abela’s law firm, which he runs with his wife Lydia, a Labour Party official. Abela Advocates were paid €110,000 in legal services in 2017, €168,000 in 2016, €110,000 in 2015, and €88,000 in 2014. The firm’s three-year contract was extended back in 2013.

The firm was originally contracted out by the PA in 2001, when its then head of legal services Anthony De Gaetano accused the authority of mishandling a planning matter concerning his property. The firm was selected through an expression of interest. It was paid over €1.2 million up until 2011.