The government’s statement after the most senior judges of the land ruled that “senior government officials” colluded in a fraud “to pump money from the nation’s coffers to the pockets of VGH” was as flaccid as a cold bath.

‘We didn’t wait for the sentence to take control of the hospitals,’ they squealed apparently congratulating themselves for heroically complying with a court order handed down last February which forced them, despite themselves and over their most virulent resistance, to reverse the sale of the hospitals to fraudsters and crooks.

The deep intelligence in yesterday’s court decision barely masks the fury of the judges. They make statements that are loaded with profound consequence. Consider how they reject the argument made by the shareholders of Steward Health Care. It doesn’t matter, the judges say, that the American buyers didn’t know that VGH had committed fraud. It is the company they were buying which was responsible for the fraud. They bought it, fraud and all. They own the fraud. The fact that a fraudulent company changes hands does not wash it of its sins.

Now apply that principle to the other party here. It doesn’t matter that the hospitals were given away by Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri, Chris Cardona, and Edward Scicluna. Robert Abela, Chris Fearne, and the rest of them are merely a change of management. January 2020 did not wash away the responsibilities of a government that – as the judges put it – failed in their duty to protect the national interest and chose to protect instead the interests of people who were defrauding the nation.

Repeatedly the judges put in quotes the English phrase “the real deal” without attributing the quote to its source. They didn’t have to. The source of the phrase is common knowledge and the identity hardly relevant to the civil suit. But the judges put it there because they wanted us to hear it. They wanted the voice of Chris Fearne from December 2019 when he allowed VGH to make a run for it with bags of our cash, to echo in our heads.

The judges asked yesterday what we all asked Chris Fearne in December 2019. If this – the new American shareholding – was “the real deal”, what was the deal VGH had when they were given the hospitals? What’s the opposite of ‘real’? Fake? False? Fraudulent? Scratch the question mark: fraudulent it is.

And Chris Fearne knew it.

I cannot bear how he presents himself as innocent of the responsibilities of Konrad Mizzi just because he isn’t Konrad Mizzi. There is a distinction between ministers insofar as criminal culpability may be concerned. People can only be held criminally culpable for the crimes they themselves commit. More on that in a separate post later.

Ministerial responsibility is different. It is collective because every minister has the constitutional responsibility to keep in check every one of their colleagues. That’s why they meet weekly in cabinet, to take collective responsibility for the decisions they are made aware of.

That’s why, a court ruling like that, which finds the government colluded with criminal interests against the national interest, should bring about the immediate dissolution of the government and a fresh general election. When a court, in a definitive decision, rules that when choosing between fraudsters and their victims the government took the side of the fraudsters, the final test of democracy comes.

If a government found to have acted against the national interest remains in power, then the last vestiges of a democracy fall away. In place of government for the people, we have government against the people. We have tyranny.

Eight years ago, they took three hospitals away from us. Now we got them back they took our democracy in exchange.