A special clause in a new law setting up the Valletta Cultural Agency allows former Valletta 2018 chief Jason Micallef to be appointed chairman despite also being at the helm of the Labour Party media house.

The Valletta Cultural Agency was set up in March to continue the legacy of the Valletta 2018 Foundation in the capital and to lay the groundwork for Malta’s next European Capital of Culture stint in 2031.

Mr Micallef, executive chairman of One Productions, would have been disqualified from chairing the new agency because the law establishing it bars anyone with “a financial or other interest in any enterprise or activity which is likely to affect the discharge of these functions” to occupy the post.

However, the law includes a provision empowering the Culture Minister to waive such disqualification with a notice in The Malta Government Gazette if the person declares his/her interest.

Had pledged to resign his One chairmanship

In fact, on March 29, the day after the new agency was officially launched, a notice appeared in The Malta Government Gazette in which Mr Micallef declared his interest and the minister duly waived the disqualification.

Mr Micallef wrote in his declaration: “I do not consider that my position in the said company [One Productions] is likely to affect the discharge of my functions as chairperson of the Valletta Cultural Agency but I am nevertheless declaring the said interest for the avoidance of doubt.”

The waiver includes an obligation for Mr Micallef not to participate in any agency decisions in which One could have an interest.

The Culture Ministry yesterday failed to respond to questions on whether the waiver provision had been included specifically to re-move any impediment to Mr Micallef’s appointment.

Mr Micallef, who also did not reply to a request for comment, has always maintained there was no conflict of interest in his dual role as chairman of One Productions and the Valletta 2018 Foundation.

However, shortly after his appointment to the foundation in 2013, he had pledged – echoing Prime Minister Joseph Muscat – to resign his One chairmanship before the start of the European Capital of Culture year in 2018. He still holds the position today.

Mr Micallef’s leadership of the Valletta 2018 Foundation has been hailed as successful by the government.

But it has also been marked by calls for his resignation from hundreds of international artists, activists and MEPs, in particular over a controversial Facebook post seen as mocking the late Daphne Caruana Galizia and his consistent calls for the clearing of a makeshift memorial for the murdered journalist.

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