Monday evening ruling by House Speaker of a Breach of Privilege by Jason Azzopardi

In a ruling given by House Speaker Dr Anġlu Farrugia during Monday evening’s session, he declared that Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi had committed a prima facie breach of Parliamentary Privilege when he addressed Parliamentary Adjournment on Wednesday morning last week and said that former Prime Minister Dr Joseph Muscat had become aware of the plot to kill Daphne Caruana Galizia and wanted to implement a General Election before it happened.

Member of Parliament Azzopardi refused to withdraw the comment and thus Speaker Farrugia referred the matter to be heard by the Parliamentary Committee for Privileges.

Dr Farrugia referred to the Permanent Orders of the Chamber that no MP should attribute malign intentions to a fellow Member. He said that MP Azzopardi had attributed malign intentions against Dr Muscat.

He added this was a clear case of a rampant Breach of Privilege and that Dr Azzopardi’s speech was not characterised in a positive temperament and neither with moderation.

The Speaker continued by saying that Parliamentary Privilege should not be abused because, among other matters, such abuse may yield terrible consequences by smashing the reputation of the MP being abused. He said this puts a great onus of responsibility on all MPs.

The Speaker therefore requested Dr Azzopardi to withdraw his speech that Dr Muscat knew of the plot to murder Daphne Caruana Galizia and thus decided to stage an early General Election.

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi refused to withdraw his comments and therefore a hearing by the Parliamentary Committee for Privileges was required.

Dr Farrugia said therefore he had no other choice other than to declare a breach of Parliamentary Privilege had been committed and referred the case to the Committee.

He appealed to all MPs to be rational in their speeches and not attribute malign intentions to fellow MPs. He said all Members should show mutual respect, be prudent and maintain a level of civil decency.

After announcing the Ruling, Speaker Farrugia informed the Chamber that he had received a letter from Government Whip Glenn Bedingfield informing him that MP Konrad Mizzi was no longer in the PL Parliamentary Group. He said he had also received a letter from Dr Konrad Mizzi affirming he was no longer a part of the PL Parliamentary Group but that he will continue to give assistance and support to the Government.