Updated 6.25pm

Rosianne Cutajar has resigned from the Labour Party parliamentary group, bowing to pressure following the publication two weeks ago of hundreds of chats between her and Yorgen Fenech.

She will stay on in parliament as an independent MP.

The PL in a brief statement said Cutajar had written to Prime Minister Robert Abela to inform him of her decision. 

Cutajar told the prime minister that she was at peace with the decision, which she said she took "with a heavy heart".

"The Labour Party was my second family for the past 13 years," she wrote, adding that she would now take better care of her health and her new family. 

Cutajar and her partner last week announced that she is expecting a baby girl.

A meeting of Labour MPs

The former Qormi mayor wrote to the prime minister at 5.10pm, just as Labour Party MPs were walking into the party's headquarters to meet with the party's executive body. 

Sources said that they expected the Cutajar issue to be a key topic of discussion during that meeting. According to the party's statute, MPs can be booted out of the party's parliamentary group through a vote of the party executive and its MPs. 

Prime Minister and Labour leader Robert Abela declined to comment as he entered the meeting. Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri said he believed Cutajar had made the correct decision.

"She did not want to be a burden on the Labour Party, and that's why she took the decision of her own will," he said.

Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri speaks before the PL meeting. Video: Chris Sant Fournier

Cutajar: 'I asked what changed, but did not get a reply'

Cutajar expanded on her decision to resign from Labour's parliamentary group in a post on her Facebook profile. 

"I don't want to be a burden for anyone," she wrote, arguing that she was bowing to pressure to quit following the "inhumane, vindictive and personal attack" she faced two weeks ago.   

That is a reference to author Mark Camilleri releasing transcripts of 2,200 chats between herself and Yorgen Fenech, who is awaiting trial for alleged involvement in the murder of  Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The chats revealed an intimate relationship between the pair at a time when Cutajar was publicly dismissing calls to investigate suspected corruption linked to Fenech

They also confirmed that Fenech gave Cutajar money as part of a property deal and show Cutajar asked Fenech for help on some occasions.

Initially, the prime minister made it clear that he did not intend to take action against Cutajar, saying she had already resigned as parliamentary secretary over her relationship with Yorgen Fenech in 2021 and should not be made to pay a political price for a second time.

But six days later his tone was different. Speaking to Times of Malta outside Castille, he said nobody is bigger than the Labour Party and MPs must "assume responsibility" for their actions.

Cutajar's resignation draws the curtain on a political career that began in earnest in 2012, when she was elected mayor of her hometown, Qormi. Cutajar would then go on to be elected as an MP in 2017, becoming parliament's youngest member at the time. 

She remained on the backbench until January 2020, when Robert Abela included her in his first cabinet, making her parliamentary secretary for civil rights and reforms. 

But that promotion would be short-lived: in 2021, Cutajar was made to step down after Times of Malta exposed her property deal with Fenech. 

In her post announcing her resignation, Cutajar said that the chat transcripts had been published intentionally to hurt her and had revealed "nothing new". 

"All of a sudden, after the usual calls from some quarters, I started facing pressure to pay some sort of political price for the second time. I asked what had changed, but I did not get an answer," she wrote. 

Cutajar said that she would serve as an independent MP while remaining "consistent with Labour values". 

Grech: 'Abela has lost control'

Opposition leader Bernard Grech, who earlier in the day had urged Abela to sack Cutajar,  said the prime minister had shown himself to be weak and with his hands tied, failing to drum up the courage to act against Cutajar.

After Abela had defended her for two weeks and done nothing about what was revealed in the chats, Rosianne Cutajar had now called his bluff by resigning from the Labour parliamentary group, denying him the parliamentary seat she occupied, Grech said.   

“Robert Abela, through his weakness, has lost control of the party and the government he leads,” Grech said.

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