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Building Authority CEO resigned voluntary, Industrial Tribunal concludes

An industrial tribunal has concluded that Karl Azzopardi resigned voluntarily from his position as CEO of the Building and Construction Authority last year and was not entitled to compensation, according to his contract of service.

But the Tribunal also concluded that Azzopardi had been given to understand that he would be given an alternative post or financial compensation and it therefore called on the parties to meet for a solution to be reached. The case is to revert to the tribunal if no agreement is reached.

Azzopardi had filed a case before the tribunal claiming unfair dismissal and demanding compensation, claiming that he had left his post in May 2022 after a meeting during which the minister responsible for the authority, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi, had voiced disappointment with the way the council was being run.

Azzopardi insisted that he had agreed to resign only after having been assured by the minister and his permanent secretary that he would be given compensation in terms of his contract, or an alternative post.

In their testimony before the tribunal, the minister and the permanent secretary agreed that disappointment had been voiced about the way the authority was being run, but they insisted that Azzopardi was not asked to resign.

It was his decision to 'move on,' they said, insisting he had no right to compensation. 

In its findings, the tribunal, chaired by Harold Walls, noted that in his resignation letter, requested "as a formality" by the permanent secretary, there was no reference to compensation, but in previous emails to the permanent secretary and to the council's chairperson, Azzopardi wrote that in terms of a meeting he had with the minister, he was expecting full settlement according to his contract of service and another solution as a fallback position.

He also later wrote that he was resigning without prejudice to a settlement or alternative proposal.

Azzopardi's testimony before Sofia public inquiry

The former CEO last month gave testimony in the public inquiry into the construction site death of Jean Paul Sofia.

When pressed by the inquiry board, he acknowledged that he was effectively forced out after failing to see eye-to-eye with Zrinzo Azzopardi.

“It's the minister who appoints you, and the minister who removes you. Three months after the [2022] election, I wanted to implement my plan,” Azzopardi testified.  “I’m not one to sit pretty behind my desk.” 

He had confirmed he was contesting his termination.