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Privileges Committee to consider breach of privilege complaint against Nationalist MP

Opposition leader asks for Speaker's ruling to also be applied to him

The Privileges Committee shall be considering a breach of privilege complaint against justice shadow minister Jason Azzopardi regarding his statement that Justice Minister Owen Bonnici had lied to parliament.

On Monday, Speaker Anġlu Farrugia asked Dr Azzopardi to retract his statement so that he could consider the case closed. He warned that unless the statement was retracted, he would take "further steps".

Dr Azzopardi had immediately said he would be appealing the ruling.

Dr Farrugia today told Parliament he would be passing the case to the Privileges Committee.

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil asked the Speaker to also apply the ruling to him as he also believed that Dr Bonnici had lied to Parliament regarding the commission paid to Henley & Partners, the administrators of the Individual Investor Programme.

Dr Busuttil said Dr Bonnici had tried to gag the Opposition and stifle freedom of expression. Dr Bonnici said that using the same argument Dr Azzopardi was gagging the media when he raised a breach of privilege complaint against a journalist back in 2010.

In another ruling, the Speaker referred to a complaint by Opposition whip David Agius regarding an answer given by Justice Minister Owen Bonnici to his question about consultants to councils.

The minister had replied that neither he not his Parliamentary Secretary had any consultants.

Dr Agius said that answers to previous questions regarding direct orders showed otherwise.

The Speaker said the Chair did not see any bad faith on behalf of the Minister because a paper laid on the Table of the House, indirectly explained the reasons for direct orders which led to Mr Agius arriving at his conclusions.

Dr Farrugia said the Chair did not have any right to correct an answer to a parliamentary question.

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