[WATCH] Abela says his law firm should retain government contracts if elected PM

PL leadership candidate Robert Abela will withdraw from law firm if elected PM but says wife and partner Lydia Abela should be free to continue government contracts serviced by Abela Advocates

Leadership candidate Robert Abela
Leadership candidate Robert Abela
Robert Abela says he will resign from his lawfirm should he be elcted PM

Labour MP and party leadership candidate Robert Abela will not relinquish his legal firm’s lucrative caseload with the Planning Authority if elected Prime Minister.

Instead, Abela said he would be resigning from Abela Advocates should he become Prime Minister, but has defended the firm’s right to bid for government work.

Abela runs the firm with his wife Lydia Abela, a lawyer and secretary of the PL executive.

“I think it is a logical decision that I step aside if I were to be elected PM,” Abela said. But he insisted nobody should be denied the opportunity to work, least of all his firm.

The leadership candidate was speaking to MaltaToday after an event held in Hamrun in the run-up to Saturday’s election, where he laid out his vision if elected Labour leader and prime minister.

Despite confirming that he would be stepping aside from the firm if elected PM, Abela insisted that the law firm should have the chance to work as any other company. “No matter if companies are led by people who lean towards the Labour Party, or people who lean towards the Nationalist Party, the right to work is there for everyone,” he said. 

Abela also insisted that the bottom line should be that no conflict of interest should be present, no matter who is in power.

Asked whether his wife should desist from taking an active role in the company, Abela insisted she had every right to work, suggesting that if he is elected PM she should have the right to serve as a lawyer on the firm’s government consultancies and caseloads.

“My wife is a lawyer and she has every right to work,” Abela said, adding that the majority of work carried out by the firm was in the private sector.

Abela has come under fire for having benefitted from direct orders for legal services to public entities, including a contract with the Planning Authority since before Labour’s election to power in 2013.

The contract has since been renewed by the PA every year.

He has defended his position, insisting that his firm, like all others that were awarded public contracts, including firms with Nationalist sympathies, had every right to benefit from government work.

Asked about existing contracts his firm already has, such as legal services to the Planning Authority, Abela reiterated that he would be withdrawing from his position within the company, and would not be involved in any aspect of the decision-making process. “That is what responsibility dictates, and I am sure that I would not be doing anything which clashes with my political position,” Abela said.