Although the Attorney General may be called as a witness in House sittings, he was not a normal witness but one bound by professional secrecy, Speaker Anglu Farrugia ruled today.

In a ruling requested after AG Peter Grech, sitting on the witness chair in the Public Accounts Committee, refused to answer questions by Jason Azzopardi (PN) on grounds of professional secrecy,  Dr Farrugia said that the AG was regularly requested by the government to give direction and advice, which the government could opt to not take.

The AG, Dr Farrugia ruled, was bound by professional secrecy and it was only the government which could release him from such secrecy through a declaration.

This was the long standing convention in the House of Commons.

According to the Erskine May, if the government did not authorise the Attorney General to give the requested information, the AG could not give it unless the government released him from secrecy.

Although the AG could be called as a witness, Dr Farrugia said, he was not a normal witness but one bound by professional secrecy.