Former MCAST principal Steve Cachia on Monday insisted that during his six-year tenure at the helm, any allegations of improper behaviour, including sexual abuse, were investigated, to the extent that an employee was fired.

He also stressed that he did not allow political pressure to influence recruitment decisions. 

Cachia was reacting to an inquiry report written in 2019 but only just revealed in court, which claimed that the management team at MCAST knew of "improper sexual behaviour" by a clique of lecturers and did not take action.

The 2019 report was submitted by a board of inquiry chaired by Paul Bonello, which investigated allegations made by the former Human Resources Director at MCAST. It included references to claims of inappropriate behaviour also made about the Pathway programme at MCAST issued in 2017. 

Cachia said that during his tenure at MCAST all allegations of sexual abuse were investigated and appropriate action taken at all times, including the case which led to the termination of employment of an employee.  

However, in the particular instance mentioned in the 2017 report in relation to a live-in experience organised for Pathway students, no allegation of sexual abuse was made. Inappropriate behaviour by some lecturers was reported but this was not in the presence of students and no students were involved. Two lecturers were issued with written warnings.

"The manner in which the report was investigated was of serious concern to me since I felt that a serious injustice was being made towards the lecturers concerned. These concerns were expressed immediately in writing," Cachia said.

"With hindsight, I have no regrets in taking such a stand to prevent an injustice from taking place even though the Bonello report strongly criticises this position."

Cachia was strongly critical of the actions of the former HR director. He said that with hindsight, he had no regrets in taking the position he took on the Pathway report "given my concerns about the manipulation being undertaken in relation to this report".  

The former principal added that the Bonello report, which he had not seen before it was made public, "gives a very partial account of the period concerned."

Toxic culture of clientelism

He said the reports seems to try to whitewash the role of a partisan political system in perpetuating the toxic culture of clientelism developed in our country over the years and instead points its guns at those who tried to work in this system while actively resisting this culture.

Cachia insisted that it was "absolutely untrue" that recruitment at MCAST at that time was guided by clientelism and favouritism. 

"On the contrary, MCAST implemented a fair and transparent recruitment process as a public sector entity despite operating within a climate perpetrated by the partisan political system our country operates in and which creates the occasional blatant clientelistic pitching. Under my watch, the direction given was that all such messages coming over from various ministers, ministries and government offices were to be ignored. Direction was given to all selection boards to operate in a fair and transparent manner by following the relevant procedure designed to ensure this."

A simple overview of all senior management appointments at MCAST at the time showed that all appointees were qualified and experienced professionals, chosen on merit and coming from all political backgrounds.

"In effect, if a toxic culture of clientelism was present, this existed within the political system of the day which expected such a culture to be perpetrated at MCAST too. This was actively resisted throughout my tenure." 

Cachia insisted that he undertook his duties at MCAST without fear or favour, with a strong ethical sense and always showing the utmost respect to staff and students.  

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.