Education ministry asks for Book Council chair resignation over online spat with suspect’s lawyer

Facebook - Mark Camilleri

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The Education ministry has asked for the resignation of the chairperson of the National Book Council Mark Camilleri over an online spat with the lawyer of murder suspect Yorgen Fenech.

Fenech stands accused of complicity in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The news was broken on Twitter by Camilleri himself after he has been blocked from posting on Facebook.

Questions have been sent to Dr Francis Fabri who serves as permanent secretary to the Education ministry.

In a statement on Wednesday night, Camilleri published the email he received from Fabri as he announced that he is convening an urgent National Writers’ Congress to vote on his fate.

Fabri referred Camilleri to an article published by a newly set up online platform Strada Rjali saying that “With reference to what you have published in the public domain and which was reported on Strada Rjali, and which is neither exemplary nor becoming of someone employed within the public sector and to the educational milieu, I am asking you to consider your position at the National Book Council and resign from the post.”

Camilleri had earlier published an exchange with lawyer Juliette Galea who has recently described herself as counsel to murder suspect Yorgen Fenech on matters relating to the public inquiry.

Taking to Twitter, Camilleri wrote that he has been asked to resign from his post at the National Book Council by the permanent secretary, adding this was done of course on “political orders”. Camilleri has held the post for the past 7 years.

Camilleri responded that he has no intention of resigning.

Earlier on Wednesday, Camilleri defended the public inquiry, saying that those who had nothing to fear had no issues with the public inquiry continuing its work.

“I’m very pleased that, thanks to this public inquiry, we’ve found out about many more new truths and I wholly support the judiciary panel as they continue working towards the truth,” Camilleri wrote.

Following his statement, Dr Galea wrote to Camilleri over Facebook Messenger linking him to the letter that Fenech sent to the Council of Europe.

“Here is the link to the letter. Read it all. It explains how a public inquiry should be done and why it’s not judicial. You’re saying stupid things,” she told Camilleri.

“Who said that the public inquiry was judicial?” Camilleri asked before advising her, in colourful language, exactly what she should do with the letter

Galea called him stupid, and Camilleri proceeded to publish the entire exchange on his Facebook wall.

The Facebook posts were subsequently reported and taken down. He was also blocked from posting on Facebook for the next 24 hours. Camilleri proceeded to upload the screenshots of the conversation onto his website where they would be safe from censorship.

National Writers’ Congress convened to vote on Camilleri’s fate

In an email sent out to writers and publishers in Malta, Camilleri shared Fabri’s email saying that he was asked to resign after he published a private chat he had with Fenech’s lawyer. He underlined that Galea had approached him out of her own free will.

He added that he does not regret using colourful language.

Citing the regulation which allows him as the executive head of the Council, Camilleri says that he is convening the National Writers’ and Publishers’ Council to hold an urgent and immediate election on the National Book Council’s executive head.

“I believe that authors and publishers have the right to decide who is fit to represent them and their interests. I am therefore asking you to officially cast your vote at the congress,” Camilleri said.

He also invited those who believe have the competence to lead the National Book Council to come forward and nominate themselves.

The process will be set in motion on Thursday.

He concluded by thanking them for their support.