Use of private emails for government work should be jailable offense, Azzopardi suggests

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi has presented a private member’s bill which would see the use of private emails for official government work become a criminal offence punishable by jail time.

In a blog published on Newsbook.com.mt, Azzopardi specifically highlighted former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s use of his private email account to negotiate a controversial €4.2 million buyback of a 65-year lease from Café Premier, effectively a lucrative bailout for a failing establishment.

He said that Muscat obviously continue the practice until the very end “so that he leaves no trace of his behaviour.” In his report on the Café Premier deal, the Auditor-General had highlighted that the use of private emails was an issue.

But Azzopardi also noted that other ministers have engaged in the controversial practice, insisting that it was clear that whoever did so had something to hide.

Delia ignoring Azzopardi’s proposed reforms since 2017

Azzopardi also revealed that he had initially presented the bill to PN leader Adrian Delia back in November 2017, asking him for permission to present it in Parliament. But in spite of repeated reminders sent over the past three years, Delia failed to reply, prompting the MP to decide that he had waited long enough.

The MP also revealed that the bill was not the only one he had presented to Delia in November 2017, stating that long hours of hard work went into his proposal. He also presented other bills last year, but these were never even discussed within the PN parliamentary group.

“I feel that the time has come to show how much work was carried out behind the scenes, and that unfortunately there were those who wanted things to remain hidden to feed the lie that he was not allowed to work,” Azzopardi said.

“I started with this bill today. It will not be the only one,” he concluded.