Dalli loses EU case for unfair dismissal
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Dalli loses EU case for unfair dismissal

John Dalli resigned voluntarily – court

John Dalli had his case against the European Commission thrown out by the European Court of Justice after it ruled against his claim of unfair dismissal.

In a two-page judgment, the ECJ found that Mr Dalli had “resigned voluntarily” from European health commissioner in 2012 and ruled that his case was “inadmissible”.

The court also rejected Mr Dalli’s claim for compensation.

Last night he said he was considering an appeal.

The case goes back to October 2012 when former European Commission President José Manuel Barroso confronted Mr Dalli with the conclusions of an investigation by OLAF, the EU’s anti-fraud agency.

OLAF had implicated Mr Dalli in a case of alleged bribery to change EU tobacco legislation and lift a ban on snus, an oral tobacco.

The investigation established there was circumstantial evidence to suggest that Mr Dalli knew that his former canvasser and Sliema restaurateur Silvio Zammit had asked for €60 million from Swedish Match, a Swedish tobacco firm, and snus lobbyists.

Mr Zammit was subsequently charged by the police in Malta with trading in influence and bribery.

Mr Dalli has repeatedly claimed the OLAF investigation was a fraud and denied any wrongdoing.

He subsequently took the European Commission to court for unfair dismissal, adding he was not even given enough time to rebut the conclusions of the report.

Mr Dalli claimed during the meeting Mr Barroso asked for his resignation and asked the ECJ to annul the alleged oral request. But Mr Barroso always contended that Mr Dalli resigned voluntarily.

The court concluded that on the basis of testimonies by various European Commission officials who joined the last part of the Barroso-Dalli meeting, and evidence presented before it, that Mr Dalli “had resigned orally”.

But the ECJ also took note of an interview Mr Dalli gave to a Maltese radio station in which he presented his departure from the Commission as a political choice “freely made”.

The ECJ noted Mr Dalli’s words when the journalist suggested that President Barroso had forced him to resign: “I do not stay where I am not wanted.”

“The court finds that Mr Dalli resigned voluntarily, no formal request for his resignation having been made by President Barroso.”

Mr Barroso had in fact decided that Mr Dalli should leave the Commission after not having provided a full and convincing explanation when faced with OLAF’s conclusions. But Mr Barroso had told the court he had accorded Mr Dalli the “political favour” of giving him the opportunity to resign voluntarily.

“President Barroso’s words, however insistent they may have been, did not result in a request to that effect [a formal resignation request according to the powers enjoyed by the President] which was capable of affecting Mr Dalli’s interests by significantly altering his legal situation,” the court said.

The absence of a formal request, which the court had been asked to annul, led the ECJ to dismiss Mr Dalli’s case.

Commenting on the court judgment, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said yesterday the ECJ did not believe “the conspiracy theories” and reiterated the truth: “The truth was that he [Mr Dalli] resigned.”

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