I wrote this morning about Robert Abela collaborating in the lie of his invisible Russian tenants that claimed they lived in her Żejtun property to acquire an EU passport. Lying about where one lives is a bit of a cottage industry in Malta.

Consider how many people lie about where they live in order to vote for their favourite candidate. This extract from the electoral roll for Valletta shows that José Herrera sleeps in his St Christopher Street office together with four relatives, including his mother, herself a near permanent feature of St Vincent Street in Sliema.

Four relatives weren’t enough. His nephew Alexander Herrera filed a court application to force a change to the electoral register so he is shown as another inhabitant of what must be by now a very smelly, overcrowded office. The court accepted the application presumably believing his sworn statement that he lives under his uncle’s desk is truthful.

It almost certainly isn’t.

At some point these people made a false declaration about where they live and José Herrera, a government minister looking for confirmation, knows this. He did not draw the court’s attention that all these Herreras do not really sleep on his office boardroom. He did not do that because he expects them to vote for him and that alone justifies lying in an official declaration.

If José Herrera were to even feel an inclination to defend himself from this, he’d say ‘everybody’ does it.

That is not entirely true, but it is almost true. Many do it. This is one of those laws that are observed in the breach. It is a declaration the electoral commission, the identity management agency, and the courts fully expect to be false and do not blink in response.

Everybody does it. But that’s just the problem, isn’t it? An oath is worth nothing in this country, especially if a government minister stands to gain from its breaking.