The Data Protection Commissioner has told Mark Camilleri to take down copies of chats he published between Rosianne Cutajar and Yorgen Fenech. The Commissioner said the publication was in breach of Yorgen Fenech’s right to privacy and Camilleri’s argument that publishing the content of the chats was in the public interest is just not strong enough.

You could criticise Mark Camilleri for publishing the entire list of chats, but that criticism would be only aesthetic. It was a chore to read through them all and filter out the daily inanities to get to the real stuff. You could also expect Yorgen Fenech’s lawyers to argue that the publication of the content of his phone means his trial is prejudiced by a public opinion trial he has already lost. It’s a bullshit argument, but they’ll make it and anyone wanting to see justice in the case of the murder he’s accused of might be wary to do anything that might help them make it.

To suggest the content of those chats was not in the public interest is utterly blind. We shouldn’t be interested where and with whom people have sex. If a politician is having an affair, it’s up to them. However curious we might be, sex is a private matter.

But no argument is absolute. Not even the argument about what happens in the bedroom staying in the bedroom.

Rosianne Cutajar was having an affair with Yorgen Fenech even as she spoke in Parliament and at the Council of Europe to seek to divert those chambers’ attention away from Yorgen Fenech as they debated the corruption he was allegedly involved in and how it could shed light on the murder of the journalist who exposed it, Daphne Caruana Galizia.

It was cruel and objectionable that in between a murdered journalist and the corruption she exposed, Rosianne Cutajar took the side of the corruption every time. But that is what all her party colleagues were doing as well. What most, though not all, of her party colleagues were not doing was accepting gifts of cash and expensive clothing from Yorgen Fenech and hiding it even as she used her elected seats to speak on his behalf and in his interests.

She also denied having a relationship with Yorgen Fenech. She lied to the public and misled Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The chats proved she had done so.

Is the fact that Yorgen Fenech told Rosianne Cutajar that he repeatedly masturbated with her in mind a matter of public interest? It wouldn’t be if he hadn’t also told her what gifts he was buying her even as she used her political office to serve his interests.

Yorgen Fenech may be an accidental recipient of the information from Rosianne Cutajar that she was getting a public service contract that would pay her to do nothing, because “kulħadd jitħanżer”.

However accidental his role in that may be, his supposed right to have his privacy respected must rank behind our right to know that the Parliamentarian he was shagging was defrauding the public of its money.

You see, it is about the ranking of rights. Everyone has the right to privacy, true enough. But we all have the right not to have our taxes siphoned off unlawfully. We all have a right to be represented in Parliament by our MP and not to have our collective interest kidnapped by the interest of an (alleged) journalist-killer and (alleged) ministers-briber just because he is paying the MP money in secret. We all have a right to know that this is being done to us.

I have little sympathy for Yorgen Fenech’s pleas for his rights to privacy. He has the right to be presumed innocent of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia until proven otherwise. If he’s convicted, we can debate Daphne’s right to privacy, her right to life even, and how he made sure those were respected. He’s not convicted yet. But that doesn’t mean we have to live with the politicians he had in his pocket, or his sheets.

In a statement Repubblika said that the Data Protection Commissioner’s order reminded them of 1984, the novel. The order to remove the chats from the record would wipe out the reason Rosianne Cutajar was forced to resign. It would be like she never did anything wrong. Which would serve Robert Abela well, given he’s so keen to get her back.

You know how criminals are being given ‘the right to be forgotten’? Perhaps we should insist on our right to remember. We’d sooner forget the image of Yorgen Fenech jerking off. It’s the memory of the money he paid to stay out of jail that we can’t afford to allow to fade.