This is a statement issued today by the president’s office after a fugitive who turned himself in to the police and told the court he has been working on a construction site at San Anton Palace while the police were looking for him:

With reference to reports that are appearing in the media, the Office of the President clarifies that the mentioned person was never employed by the Office of the President. According to the architect in charge of the ongoing works at Sant’Anton Palace, the mentioned person was hired by a private contractor and without notice to deliver material to people doing works in the Palace. The Office of the President has never had an employment relationship with the mentioned person.

Some observations:

Firstly, the statement does not address the most serious allegation made by Tristan Farrugia Tedesco which is that President George Vella spoke to him in person and told him not to work at the Palace anymore because he found out Mr Farrugia Tedesco was wanted by the police. I still think the incident is extremely unlikely because if true the president would have helped a fugitive avoid the law instead of helping the law find the fugitive. Disturbingly, the president’s office did not assure us this did not happen.

Secondly, whoever is providing security for the president should be making at least some very basic security checks on people working in his vicinity. It’s clear that anyone can get close to the president under the guise of a contractor without any form of check because if they had done a basic check the fact that Mr Farrugia Tedesco was wanted by the police would have come up. It’s not asking much but this calls for a review in security procedures and the president’s office should have told us they’ll be doing this. The president in San Anton is guarded by the army. How useless are they if this can happen until they find out about it on the news?

Thirdly, a public contract is expected to require from its contractors that they respect employment laws. It is highly likely that Mr Farrugia Tedesco would have been working informally because if he had been properly engaged his name would have come up with the national employment registry and the police would have found him. If Mr Farrugia Tedesco was unlawfully and casually employed, his employer’s contract with the president’s office should be rescinded. If, on the other hand, Mr Farrugia Tedesco’s employer filled out all the paperwork and informed the public agency of his engagement, go back to point number 2: a security review is required.

It’s a sign of the mediocrity of this country that when an omnishambles of a fuck-up like this is exposed somewhere in the administration, the statements they issue admit to nothing they could have done better. It is the best guarantee that they’ll be just as fucked up next time, except that they’ll hope we don’t get to find out.