The Commissioner for Standards in Public Life, George Hyzler, has given consideration to a complaint submitted by lawyer Andrew Borg Cardona regarding a statement issued by the Department of Information (DOI) in February on behalf of Minister Konrad Mizzi, in which the Minister announced he had withdrawn libel cases he had instituted about allegations against him concerning money laundering, stating these allegations had already been declared by the Courts as being without foundation.
The Commissioner reiterated this statement referred to personal issues and had been penned in a partisan tone as it had accused members of the Opposition of having woven a web of deceit and thrown mud against him. The Commissioner added it was not right that this kind of language is used in official statements issued by the DOI.
The Commissioner added that he recognised Minister Mizzi could have been misled because of a lack of policy on this issue. The Commissioner concluded that a suitable remedy would have been for the Minister to instruct his officials to be more sensitive in distinguishing between official and private or partisan matters, adding that they should not use the DOI in future for private and partisan matters. Commissioner Hyzler further stated that Minister Mizzi had accepted that these steps should be taken, and the case was therefore closed.
Dr Hyzler declared that the DOI should “safeguard its political impartiality”, and a policy should be adopted regarding ministerial statements, or possibly a wider policy regarding the DOI’s role in the media.