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'Disgraced’ former chairman given another post

CV fails to mention his former Gozo Channel role

The new Ornis chairman Joseph Grech.

The new Ornis chairman Joseph Grech.

A Gozitan lawyer who had been forced to step down as Gozo Channel Co. chairman in 2011 and then “resigned” from his post of adviser in 2016 has been given another chance by the government.

Environment Minister Josè Herrera last week appointed Joseph Grech chairman of the Ornis committee, tasked among other things with the monitoring of hunting regulations.

This raised eyebrows among environmental NGOs, deeming the appointment “inappropriate”, especially in view of his “bad reputational record when he was given public responsibilities”.

He had ordered a Gozo ferry to return to the quay to pick him up

In 2011, under a Nationalist administration, Dr Grech had to resign from his post as Gozo Channel chairman, which he had occupied for some years.

This followed a report on the Times of Malta, which said he had ordered a Gozo ferry to return to the quay to pick him up as he had arrived late and did not wish to wait for the next scheduled trip.

Then finance minister Tonio Fenech had asked Dr Grech to resign for unbecoming behaviour and abuse of power.

Yet, soon after Labour was returned to power in 2013, Dr Grech returned to Gozo Channel, this time as adviser. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had justified the decision saying Dr Grech deserved to be given another chance even though he had erred before.

Read: Disgraced ex-Gozo Channel chairman does it again

However, he “resigned” after falling out with both the Gozo Ministry and the Gozo Channel chairman. A few months later, a ferry captain reported to the police Dr Grech had contacted him by phone while making a trip admonishing him for taking a longer route than necessary.

The captain said the vessel sailed behind Comino due to inclement weather.

When asked about Dr Grech’s past, a spokesman for Dr Herrera defended the appointment: “The ministry does not consider what happened in 2011 as conflicting with Dr Grech's post and responsibilities as chairman of the Ornis committee.”

The CV accompanying the official statement announcing his latest appointment does not mention that Dr Grech served as Gozo Channel chairman.

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