“I would have shouldered political responsibility had I not taken action” – former Police Minister

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Former Police Minister, Michael Farrugia said that he would have shouldered political responsibility had he not taken action.

Asked by the press about the overtime racket, Energy Minister Farrugia insisted that at the time he was responsible for the Police, he had received a letter from the whistleblower which was immediately passed on to the permanent secretary and to then Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar. The letter was received sometime at the end of last year. The whistleblower had then sent a letter in which more people were copied and which was published on social media by Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi.

An internal police investigation into overtime abuse by the Traffic Police branch spread to other units. Until Thursday, 40 police officers were arrested of which 25 individuals were given police bail. The officers with police bail were subsequently suspended.

Four police officials from the Traffic Unit have subsequently resigned from their posts. On Wednesday, Police Superintendent Walter Spiteri who is suspected of fraud resigned. Spiteri was reinstated in the Police force in 2017.

Fielding questions from the press, Farrugia said at the moment the ministry, the department and himself were made aware of the situation, an investigation was kicked off.

“God forbid we end up in a situation where if one got to know about something and took action, they should shoulder political responsibility,” Minister Farrugia said.

He argued that political responsibility should be shouldered in cases where no action was taken. The Home Affairs Ministry received evaluation reports about overtime however, no alarms were raised, Farrugia explained. An annual evaluation report would show the expenses.

Farrugia said that at the time he had given instructions for the probe to be widened beyond the traffic police.