Chris Fearne to scrap chief of staff role in prime minister's office: 'OPM cannot have two power centres'

Labour leadership hopeful Chris Fearne takes dig at powerful role Keith Schembri was allowed to have in government

Chris Fearne (File photo)
Chris Fearne (File photo)

Chris Fearne will scrap the role of chief of staff in the office of the prime minister if he is elected Labour leader next month.

The Deputy Prime Minister is one of two contenders vying for the leadership post that will be vacated by Joseph Muscat in January. The winner of the leadership race will automatically become prime minister.

Fearne is running against Labour MP Robert Abela.

In an interview on One Radio this afternoon, Fearne said he will abolish the role of chief of staff in the office of the prime minister, insisting the highest office in government could not have “two power centres”.

The comment was a dig at the powerful position that Joseph Muscat’s ex chief of staff Keith Schembri was allowed to muster over the past six years.

READ ALSO: Everyone linked to Caruana Galizia murder should be investigated - Chris Fearne

Schembri not only got involved in the workings of all ministries but also enjoyed privileged access to highly sensitive information that the Security Service shared with the Prime Minister.

The middleman in the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder and the accused, Yorgen Fenech have both claimed that Schembri passed on details of the police investigation, including sensitive security information.

Fearne’s comment also reflects the sentiment expressed by veteran minister Evarist Bartolo, who asked whether the prime minister’s chief of staff should end up “chief of government”. 

Bartolo insisted on one seat of power that was accountable to the people that elected it: “There must be just one prime minister and one Cabinet. The one that takes power and its oath to serve the people and which can be kept under the scrutiny of the parliament, media and civil society. Every other power, hidden and secret, can only do damage.”

READ ALSO: Labour’s open war on Facebook: Schembri’s henchman Gafà takes aim at Evarist Bartolo