Robert Abela has put on quite a few Edward Debono’ famed hats. He was a consultant to the world’s most corrupt prime minister, and he was the lawyer of several criminals who still adore him and spread his photo on their car bonnet. He is also an able yacht captain and navigator frequently sailing from Valletta to Marina di Ragusa. The last hat he donned is that of a confessor, as he called on Rosianne Cutajar and Justyne Caruana inviting them back to the Labour fold and letting them know that all is forgiven.

Rosianne Cutajar, former Mayor of Qormi, was forced to resign from her post as parliamentary secretary in February 2021 after the publication of a damning report by the Standards Commissioner which revealed that she was involved, as a broker, in a more than €3 million property deal involving Yorgen Fenech, accused of masterminding the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. The Standard Commissioner concluded that she did not declare the income for tax purposes. Cutajar received €28,000 as termination benefits while she kept her MP’s salary.

She was allowed to contest the general elections of 2022 and was elected via a casual election. In April 2023 author Mark Camilleri released transcripts of more than 2,000 chats between Cutajar and again Yorgen Fenech between June and September 2019. The chats revealed not only an intimate relationship between the two but Cutajar’s frustration of not being included in Joseph Muscat’s cabinet. But worse, she admitted that she wanted to ‘pig out’ like her colleagues by accepting a consultancy for the Institute of Tourism “Issa ġejt għala biebi ħa nidħol konsulenta ta’ Pierre ITS u ndaħħal paga oħra,” she told Yorgen. She had a three-year contract at €27,000 per year. The National Auditor, after an investigation, concluded that her consultancy job with ITS was irregular and fraudulent.

She resigned from the Labour Parliamentary group but stayed as an independent member of parliament. In a statement she wrote that she did not want to be a burden to anyone and was bowing to pressure to quit following the “inhumane, vindictive and personal attack” by Camilleri. At first Robert Abela defended Cutajar but later he changed his tone and told Times of Malta that nobody was bigger than the Party and all MPs must ‘assume responsibility’ for their actions.

In January 2019 Justyne Caruana was requested by the prime minister to resign as Minister for Gozo just a week after being sworn in. She obliged and resigned as minister but stayed on as a member of Parliament. Caruana’s position in Cabinet was deemed untenable as her husband Silvio Valletta, Deputy Commissioner of Police was being investigated for unethical behaviour. It became known that Valletta went on holiday with Yorgen Fenech. They both flew business class to go and watch a Chelsea FC football match. This was while Fenech was being investigated for his possible involvement in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. It was found that Valletta had a very close relationship with Fenech, and a video was found on Fenech’s mobile phone showing Valletta clowning about near Fenech’s white Rolls Royce. Caruana left her husband soon after. There was more.

In December 2022, an ethics report by the then Standards Commissioner was released. The report showed that Caruana breached ethics by ‘giving preferential treatment’ to her friend, Daniel Bogdanovic, a professional footballer, and coach. Caruana gave her friend a direct order for a contract that he was not qualified to fulfil. The report also said that an effort was made to disguise Bogdanovic’s incompetence because the contract was carried out by a Gozo ministry official. Caruana and Bogdanovic denied that they were romantically involved, but the Commissioner judged the relationship too close which constituted an infringement of the code of ethics. Caruana resigned from her position as Minister for Gozo soon after. She did not contest the general elections of 2022.

In a recent interview with friendly Saviour Balzan, Abela declared that he was considering the return and rehabilitation of Caruana too, after his announcement that he is considering a return to Labour of Rosianne Cutajar. He insisted that both Cutajar and Caruana had paid the highest political price. “A good leader is one who uses all available talents and does not throw anyone away,” declared Robert Abela.

Someone once compared the Labour Party to a skip.