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Parliamentary Secretary resigns as court orders perjury proceedings

Parliamentary Secretary Chris Said resigned from the government this afternoon after an appeals court decided that he should face legal proceedings for perjury.

Contacted by timesofmalta.com Dr Said confirmed that he was stepping down, saying his resignation had been accepted by the prime minister.

The case goes back to 2007 when Dr Said was legal counsel to a British woman who was seeking custody of her baby from his Maltese father.

A court in Gozo had decided to award temporary custody of the baby while the case was considered.

Dr Said said the woman later chose another lawyer and he handed over the file of the case to him.

Some two years ago, during a court hearing, he was questioned about the case and he declared that the court had awarded temporary custody during an evening sitting in January 2007.

Subsequently the baby's father filed legal proceedings against Dr Said, arguing that what he said was not true as the court had decided in the afternoon in camera, before the evening sitting.

The police on the advice of the Attorney General said there were no legal grounds for proceedings against Dr Said. The lower court also decided that there were no grounds for proceedings since the discrepancy in the evidence had no bearing on the case at issue.

Nonetheless the baby's father filed a court challenge against the police and the court, presided by Mr Justice Michael Mallia, decided that legal proceedings should be instituted against Dr Said.

Dr Said told timesofmalta.com that he was resigning with a clear conscience and he was convinced he had done nothing wrong. He explained that even though it was factually correct that the court had awarded temporary custody of the baby in the afternoon and not the evening, he had been giving evidence without notes and had been relying on his memory, years after the case happened. He said he had not been present when the court took its decision.

Furthermore, the father and the first court had both said this had not had a bearing on the case.

Dr Said said he had instructed his lawyers to file an application for the case to be heard with urgency.

It is understood that the prime minister has decided to keep Dr Said's post vacant until proceedings are concluded.

Dr Said was responsible for public dialogue and consumer affairs, among other responsibilities. He was the youngest member of the government.

Dr Said will be staying on as an MP.

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