Chris Fearne doesn’t want to go down in this storm. This is not just the desire for power or the fear of losing it. It is also because he is absolutely convinced he is innocent of the Steward catastrophe even if everyone else within smelling distance of the health ministry is guilty as a dog eating its own faeces.
Times of Malta this morning describes tensions between Robert Abela and Joseph Muscat. Robert Abela would love to distance himself and his government from the scandal and like a dog with a smelly mouth, he had only one thing to tell the press after the earth-shattering court decision: “I was not even an MP when it happened.”
There was no ‘learning from the lessons,’ ‘apology for the patients who sufferred below par health care,’ ‘regret for the loss of public money,’ ‘commitment to allocate personal responsibilities and where applicable ensure prosecution and conviction.’ None of that. All he had to say was ‘it wasn’t me.’
True, he was not an MP in 2015 when the deal was struck. But he had a bigger role in Joseph Muscat’s scheme than most MPs. Most MPs did not sit at the cabinet table. Most MPs, even most ministers, were not called in for core meetings with Joseph Muscat. Most MPs were not Joseph Muscat’s attorney.
Joseph Muscat points this out all the time, his angry statements becoming ever shorter and ever more transparent. Joseph Muscat is not looking to share blame with Robert Abela. He’s simply reminding Robert Abela that if Muscat goes down he’ll take Abela with him.
There’s a third man in this battle.
While he is with Robert Abela in wanting to force a distance between himself and Joseph Muscat’s government, Chris Fearne sees his innocence and Robert Abela’s in varying shades of grey.
Either Chris Fearne or his people are briefing in order to attempt what should be impossible: drawing a thin but sufficiently firm line between himself and the rest of Robert Abela’s government, allowing his colleagues to be smeared by the shit left by Joseph Muscat while he rises, all clean, above it.
Consider some of the reporting making the rounds on the blogosphere. We learned for example that Joseph Muscat was warned that Steward were being investgated by the American authorities for “foreign corrupt practices” two days (read that again: two days) before Steward announced they had bought Vitals’ shares in the Malta deal.
This screenshot published by Mark Camilleri shows an exchange between Joseph Muscat and an unidentified person warning the prime minister of this fact and Joseph Muscat ordering its cover-up. The authenticity of the screenshot has not been independently verified and Joseph Muscat may or may not eventually deny it.
It would be merely a guess to suggest that exchange was with Chris Fearne. Chris Fearne may or may not eventually confirm it but it’s a guess he’d want us all to make, without his help if possible.
There are things Chris Fearne is happy to explicitly remark on, such as the point made by the court last Friday that though Chris Fearne was health minister at the time that Steward were allowed to buy Vitals’ shares, it was Konrad Mizzi who was running the relationship on behalf of the government.
Legally that may be relevant. Politically, not in the slightest. Chris Fearne publicly endorsed the deal and kept it up for all the years he served as health minister. He never denounced it, not to mention ever distancing himself from it by resigning. Chris Fearne would never do a Lino Spiteri.
On the brink of being made party leader and prime minister he said nothing about addressing the Steward mess and taking action against the people in government who allowed it to happen. On the contrary he publicly embraced Joseph Muscat, attempting to profit from his corruption for as long as it suited him.
Now that a gaggle of chickens may be coming home Chris Fearne is demanding the impossible, to be thanked for doing nothing when it was his duty to do something.