How does one say this nicely?
Let’s just say Lawrence Cutajar would not be the likely choice in a casting for a cop-show looking for a chief of police that inspires sobriety, confidence, balance and hard-nosed, indefatigable determination to fight and defeat crime. If Lawrence Cutajar played NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, binge watching at night on a laptop in bed with hot chocolate would be a less obvious prescription for the moderately under the weather.
He has that ineffable look about him that fulfils rather too comfortably the narrative that he is a puppet in Joseph Muscat’s hand. He is that but this marionette needs no strings to dance the right tune.
I have not managed to get my hands on the December edition of the Police magazine so I’m reaching my conclusions on the back of Lovin Malta’s report of it. Read that here.
The chief of police writes an editorial where he chooses to push back on calls for his resignation that have now been a more permanent feature of political discourse in Malta than the madness of King George III.
There was only one time when he ‘mulled over’ the possibility of resigning.
Let’s speculate for a moment, times when it would have been reasonable for him to consider resignation.
It could have been that night in April 2017 when after he told a TV camera there was nothing to investigate at Pilatus Bank, Magistrate Aaron Bugeja ordered him to raid the bank, naturally, after all the evidence had been spirited away due to his very public lethargy. It could have been. But no, Lawrence Cutajar was not embarrassed enough to consider resigning that day.
It could have been that day in July 2017 when Magistrate Ian Farrugia agreed with Simon Busuttil there were enough grounds to investigate Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri’s wrongdoing discovered by the Panama Papers and by other leaks since, even after Lawrence Cutajar repeatedly said there was nothing to see there. It could have been. But no, Lawrence Cutajar was not embarrassed enough to consider resigning that day.
It could have been that day in October 2017 when Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bomb and it emerged that the most obvious target for violent reprisal in the entire country had no measure of police protection altogether. It could have been. But no, Lawrence Cutajar was not embarrassed enough to consider resigning that day.
It could have been that day in April this year when an Opposition MP in Parliament stood and quoted reliable information that the people arrested in connection with Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination were tipped off prior to their arrest from within Police headquarters. It could have been. But no, Lawrence Cutajar was not embarrassed enough to consider resigning that day.
It could have been that day last June when the Constitutional Court ordered his Deputy Silvio Valletta removed from the investigation into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder because, in spite of Lawrence Cutajar’s insistence that the investigations are led by Valletta, the Court found that decision to be in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights. Lawrence Cutajar could have perhaps held out until the outcome of the appeal from that decision. So he could have considered resigning last October when the Appeals Court decided against him again. It could have been. But no, Lawrence Cutajar was not embarrassed enough to consider resigning that day.
Now after all that let me tell you when the only time Lawrence Cutajar considered resigning was. It was when officer Simon Schembri was run over and willfully dragged under the car of one Liam Debono, an underage driver.
Here’s Lovin Malta’s translation of Lawrence Cutajar’s ‘confession’: “I remember going to hospital and seeing the state he was in and crying for him and his family. In that moment in time, I felt that I should carry part of the blame because an anti-police environment had been fermented, with certain sectors of society directing their criticism at me. I went home and spent some time mulling it over.”
You abject hypocrite, you partisan crony, you small, small man. Is it you now, chief of police, that is saying that Liam Debono drove over officer Simon Schembri because we think you’re a puppet of the government?
No anti-police environment has conditioned Liam Debono to act the way he did. No doubt his defence lawyers will produce many reasons they will say have conditioned his choices and mitigate his responsibility. They’d be lying idiots if they were to suggest Liam Debono was credibly emboldened to drive over a traffic policeman because we marched in the streets calling for Lawrence Cutajar’s resignation.
But Lawrence Cutajar betrays his own policewomen and men when he justifies acts of violence against them on the back of some imaginary anti-police environment which exists only in his head.
People who protest against a corrupt prime minister are not necessarily anarchists. People who call for the removal of a paedophile priest are not necessarily anti-clerical. Just because you have missed several reasons to resign, does not mean that any one of us protesting your unjustified incumbency has some general ill-feeling against police women and men in any general sense.
But it gets worse. Lawrence Cutajar says he considers resigning because he thought Liam Debono ran over officer Simon Schembri because of criticism of him, Cutajar. So he felt responsible and went home considering to resign.
Then what happened? “A few days later, I visited Simon Schembri at the ITU but he was resting and I didn’t want to wake him. When he woke up, I asked him if he recognised me and his response remains marked in my mind till this day. He told me these precise words: ‘How can I not recognize you, Sir? You love the man in the street so much and you do so much for us.’
I cried in silence afterwards but his words gave me the courage I needed to continue my work.”
Are you for real? How did any of that stop you feeling responsible? Did Simon Schembri’s respectful and amazingly decent response to you dissuade you from the notion that there actually was an anti-police environment because of animosity towards you? Because by your own description of what he was telling you, the reality was quite the opposite. You’re some sort of Father Christmas everybody adores.
Lawrence Cutajar is not just a clown or a marionette. He is another self-serving agent, an outstretched tentacle of this octopus that has gripped this country through and through.
He considered resigning once. Then he changed his mind. And that, whether you like it or not, is that.