When Labour refused to impeach Judge Anton Depasquale

Published: June 1, 2012 at 10:47am

Set the Labour Party’s false, cheap and opportunistic crusade against the minister of home affairs in the context of its appalling refusal to impeach Judge Depasquale.

This was the leading article (editorial) in The Times on 28 September 2001.



Anybody who followed the case of Mr Justice Anton Depasquale will have been shocked by the outcome of last Tuesday`s apparently free vote in the House on the impeachment motion. That vote was transparently not as free as the country would have wished it to be.

The government voted in favour of the motion, the opposition against, with the brave exception of Dr Louis Buhagiar, who cast his vote with the government.

The facts of the case are simplicity itself. Mr Justice Depasquale absented himself from work. He claimed on his behalf that he had done so on a matter of conscience.

This conscientiousness lasted for the next seven years, faltering only recently when the judge realised that impeachment was round the corner.

The Commission for the Administration of Justice was unanimous in its opinion that the judge`s conduct was impeachable.

The motion for impeachment was placed before parliament in 1995, since when it gathered dust.

This year that dust was brushed away and the case came before parliament to judge.

Members on both sides of the House were allowed a free vote. What caused the failure of the opposition to look this case of justice in the eyes and vote in favour of the removal of a man who had not done a day`s work in seven years, burdening his colleagues in the process with the case-load he had abandoned? It could not have been a sense of what is right.

Dr Buhagiar apart, opposition MPs have much to answer for. Their leader will be answering on their behalf in the days to come. The electorate must sense that whatever he says cannot help asking two, simple questions.

The first is that if Mr Justice Depasquale can get away with a bout of conscience, even after he has lost case after case in the courts defending himself, why cannot all our judges be smitten the same way, stay at home, receive their pay packets, which are not insignificant, and spend the rest of their lives doing what this precedent has set?

The second question has equally profound implications. Given that nothing now prevents a judge from following in Mr Justice Depasquale`s footsteps, what signal was the opposition sending out, not only to the judiciary, not only to those in responsible positions but to the country at large?

It is definitely a wrong signal, and for this, most people are disappointed by the opposition`s attitude in this most important case.

Members of the opposition, with one brave exception, took their leader`s lead and dismissed the implications as if there were none. There is a grave one, at least. If a judge can refrain from carrying out his duties on the grounds that his conscience forbids him to do so, and still receive his monthly salary, which his conscience does not forbid him from accepting, each of 140,000 workers could conceivably make the same claim.

What we must remember, however, is that in this case, the occupation of the person involved is no ordinary one. It includes nothing less than the dispensation of justice, the power to imprison and to set free, to render to the evil-doer what is his due, to the wronged, his.

It is a terrible responsibility he carries. For seven years, Mr Justice Depasquale did not carry it.

7 Comments Comment

  1. Lomax says:

    Well done for digging this up.

    What a bloody bunch of hypocrites the PL are. As I always, but always say: kif ma jisthux?

    [Daphne – A reader of this website dug it up, not me.]

    • Mister says:

      And that’s why Joseph Muscat and Franco Debono want to close your blog down, because it’s the collective gathering of information on this site which frightens the hell out of them.

      Franco Debono and conflict of interest:


      He makes a fuss about this ‘set of rights’ to be accompanied by a lawyer, and then he’s using this loophole himself for his clients. Is it only me, or does anyone else see this as a conflict of interest?

      Using parliament for his own clients’ benefit. And what clients…

  2. Tim Ripard says:

    I’d like to hear what the Lejber apologists like Eddy Privitera and the willy-puller have to say about this.

    • Bunny Rabbit says:

      They are awaiting for instructions on how to reply, from party headquarters.

    • Angus Black says:

      They can’t say much, Tim. However the people spoke in 2003 and 2008 and hopefully, so will they do again in 2013 or sooner.

  3. David says:

    I am informed that Judge Anton Depasquale returned to work as a judge after he lost the constitutional case he had filed on the Commission for the Administration of Justice. You can verify this fact yourself.

    [Daphne – Yes, he did. So that’s all right then, is it.]

  4. ciccio says:

    They protect the ones who do not work, and they tax and persecute the ones who create the wealth.

    Typical of the socialists. They never change. They will do it all over again the moment they get back into the corridors of power.

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