A judge has suspended the process leading to the appointment of a consultant surgeon at Mater Dei Hospital until an aggrieved candidate is given all the necessary information to present his case.

Last March, the health authorities issued a call for the appointment of a consultant surgeon specialised in lower gastro-intestinal surgery.

When the interviews were held, one of the two applicants, Mark Zammit Vincenti, who placed second, filed a complaint with the Public Service Commission and demanded information on the other candidate and on the process as to how the marks were given.

Commission had to ensure that things were done the right way

The commission refused to accede to his request, citing data protection restrictions. Dr Zammit Vincenti then took his case to court and Mr Justice Anthony Ellul upheld his request, ordering the commission not to conclude the process before the complainant was given the information he sought and the right to make his case in an informed manner.

The court declared that the commission’s interpretation and application of the regulations, whereby the requested file was not at the least made available to Dr Zammit Vincenti for review, breached the applicant’s rights to present his case.

The judge concluded that if Dr Zammit Vincenti was not given access to all the information contained in the file, he would be prejudiced in his proceedings before the commission and would remain without the information he needed to make his case.

The court said that even though the vacant post was an important one at Mater Dei Hospital, the commission could not do as it pleased and had to ensure that things were done the right way.

It resulted that, during the court hearing, the commission exhibited in court a result sheet that was different to the one originally communicated to Dr Zammit Vincent.

According to the court, this fact continued to convince it that the aggrieved candidate should have access to all documents for scrutiny. Furthermore, Dr Zammit Vincenti had the right to file a police report if he suspected any criminal wrongdoing in the publication of the results.

Lawyer Victoria Buttigieg assisted the commission. Lawyer Ian Spiteri Bailey assisted Dr Zammit Vincenti.

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