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Anġlu Farrugia: I’ve lost faith in Joseph

Muscat says ex-deputy leader is still ‘very relevant’ to Labour

Anġlu Farrugia. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Anġlu Farrugia. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Labour’s outgoing deputy leader Anġlu Farrugia yesterday parted from Joseph Muscat in acrimonious fashion, saying he had lost faith in the PL leader.

Yesterday morning, Dr Farrugia published a two-page letter tendering his resignation sent to Dr Muscat on Thursday, which shows the bitterness of his departure.

“I feel that in the current circumstances, since I have lost faith in you, it would be in the interest of the Labour Party that I resign from this post,” Dr Farrugia wrote.

The Labour leader responded by leaving a door open to Dr Farrugia and insisting he was still “very relevant”.

Dr Farrugia was forced to resign on Thursday after saying in a speech on Sunday that a magistrate had displayed political bias in a case he was involved in.

However, the former deputy leader wrote that, since Dr Muscat did not understand anything in his speech, he felt there was no need for him to contest the next election.

Explaining that while in his speech he did not mention the magistrate, Audrey Demicoli, by name – nor her father, who in the early 1990s served as an assistant general secretary of the PN – he wanted to point out that members of the judiciary should declare their political allegiances and withdraw from deciding cases where they might have a conflict.

He said this was particularly important with corrupt practices during general elections.

In his letter, Dr Farrugia also revealed Dr Muscat had congratulated him after his speech, in the presence of his family members.

Asked to react to Dr Farrugia’s resignation letter yesterday, Dr Muscat adopted a conciliatory tone, saying he understood his former deputy leader’s feelings following Thursday’s events.

“I can understand that Dr Farrugia is hurt. However, we need to look forward and I am sure that, after some days, we will find a way to move on,” Dr Muscat said.

Playing on the Prime Minister’s claim that his rebel MP Franco Debono had become “irrelevant” after the Budget vote which he helped defeat, Dr Muscat said he considered Dr Farrugia “as a very relevant person who still has a lot to give to the Labour Party”.

“The door is always open to Dr Farrugia and if he wants he can still contest the general election,” he declared.

Dr Farrugia’s surprise resignation on Thursday came after a series of events in the preceding week.

Last Friday, Labour decided to drop Dr Farrugia’s confirmed participation for a debate with the PN’s newly elected deputy leader Simon Busuttil.

Instead, it gave Dr Farrugia’s slot to rebel PN MP Franco Debono. The programme was cancelled and Labour’s move was censured by the Broadcasting Authority.

On Saturday, Labour agreed to field Dr Farrugia in a TV debate with Dr Busuttil. However, his performance was harshly criticised by political observers.

On Sunday, when addressing a Labour activity, Dr Farrugia criticised Magistrate Audrey Demicoli, without mentioning her name, accusing her of political bias.

Excerpts from Dr Farrugia’s letter (translation from Maltese)

“Although I disagree that the issue we discussed (comments on a member of the judiciary) should lead to my resignation, I feel that in the circumstances, given that I have lost faith in you, it would be best, in the interest of the Labour Party, that I resign from this post...”

 

“Following my speech last Sunday, which was well received by all those present, including yourself and you congratulated me in front of my family, an article was published on the front page of The Times the following day which revealed the magistrate’s name and that of her father and The Times confirmed the rest of the story.”

 

“Later in the day, while I was on a short holiday with my family in Sicily, which you knew about, you called me about this issue and I gave you my thoughts about how you should deal with the questions of the same newspaper. In the end, you kept insisting that the reference to this magistrate was serious and that I should resign.”

 

“With a heavy heart and after consulting my wife and daughter, after you asked in writing for my resignation, I am submitting my resignation from the post of Deputy Leader for Parliamentary Affairs.”

 

“And since it seems that you have understood nothing of what I wanted to say last Sunday on the right of free elections and that there should be no shadow of doubt on any conflict that a member of the judiciary could have, especially on issues like corrupt practices, I feel that in the circumstances there is no need for me to contest the next general election.”

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