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Silvio Grixti vows to ignore 'unconstitutional' Medical Council investigation

Former Labour MP Silvio Grixti, currently at the centre of the benefits fraud scandal, has told the Medical Council that he will ignore its investigation in the light of a recent court ruling that the council lacked objective impartiality by acting as judge, jury, and prosecutor.

He was replying to a request for comment by the Medical Council over reports in the media about his alleged involvement in the scandal.

In his letter, signed by lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Franco Debono, Grixti quoted the case decided by the constitutional court last June on proceedings the council had filed against doctor and PN MP Stephen Spiteri, in which the court ruled that the council’s action was in breach of his rights.

He said that since nothing had changed in the composition and operations of the Medical Council since this judgment, which would “ensure that no violations of human rights continue to occur by the council”, he was opting to ignore the council’s request to protect his constitutional rights.

In his decision on the Spiteri case, Mr Justice Robert Mangion ruled that Spiteri’s rights to a fair hearing were breached when the council investigated him for allegedly signing medical certificates without examining patients.

The Medical Council’s multiple functions - from investigation to prosecution and issuing penalties - made it a “classic case of a structural lack of objective impartiality,” the judge said.

“It is more than evident that the Medical Council does not satisfy the criteria for objective impartiality since the powers given to it by the law allow it to prosecute [the doctor], summon witnesses to back its accusations, and then decide on those accusations,” Mr Justice Mangion had said.

The judge had proceeded to annul the council’s proceedings against Spiteri since they were in breach of his fundamental rights. The decision was not appealed by the Medical Council.

Following the judgment, the council had told Times of Malta that it had taken “cognizance of the court sentence and is currently discussing the way forward with its legal advisors in this regard”.

It is understood the council intends to push parliament to change the law to avoid similar situations in the future.

Legal sources said that to avoid a 'judge, jury and prosecutor situation' in the future, the council will likely suggest that an independent body is set up to take decisions on complaints filed against a doctor.