Former home affairs minister Manuel Mallia has been approved by London as Malta's next UK High Commissioner. 

Mallia was nominated by the Maltese government in June and takes over from Joseph Cole. 

Government sources said the former home affairs minister passed through a "rigorous" due diligence and security clearance review by UK authorities in recent months.  

Some media reports speculated in recent weeks that diplomatic trouble was brewing between Malta and the UK after London stalled on giving Mallia the green light. 

Foreign affairs ministry sources however told Times of Malta the vetting process was “routine” and that no major issues were raised.  

Who is Manuel Mallia?

Mallia switched political allegiances before the 2013 election and was elected to parliament on the Labour ticket.

He was appointed as home affairs minister soon after the election but was asked to resign in 2014 in the wake of a shooting incident allegedly involving his driver, former police officer Paul Sheehan

A government-appointed inquiry by three retired judges had established that there was an attempt to cover up the shooting incident which also led to the removal of Ray Zammit who at the time was acting police commissioner.

He was replaced by the head of the Security Service, Michael Cassar, who eventually resigned too.

The inquiry had found that while Mallia was not directly involved in any cover-up, he failed when an official government statement falsely said warning shots had been fired in the air. The car Sheehan had been chasing was hit by bullets.

In the absence of the requested resignation and as Mallia insisted that there had been no cover up, former prime minister Joseph Muscat had appointed Minister Carmelo Abela as the new home affairs minister.

Barely two years later, Muscat re-appointed Mallia to the Cabinet as competitiveness minister.  

He last year cautioned anybody mulling a move into politics, saying they should weigh their decision carefully.

Mallia’s predecessor, Ambassador Cole joined the diplomatic corps in December 1977 and served as Consul General for Malta in New South Wales, Australia, between 1983 and 1985.

He held various positions including that of Deputy High Commissioner in London, UK, where he served from 1998 to 2001. After that, Cole represented Malta at various international forums. 

It is not clear whether the government will post Cole to another country. 

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