Glenn Bedingfield, the Labour MP and political blogger, was given a paid job by the Office of the Prime Minster to coordinate parliamentary questions on the day of last June’s general election, The Sunday Times of Malta is informed.
Mr Bedingfield was subsequently elected to Parliament through a casual election to fill Joseph Muscat’s vacated seat.
As a member of the Prime Minister’s secretariat, he was given the brief of assisting “in coordination with other ministries in the drafting of replies to various parliamentary questions” and to “draft replies to parliamentary questions received by the OPM”.
The job raises the question of conflict of interest. One of the primary roles of an elected representative is to scrutinise the executive, partly through the instrument of the parliamentary question.
Also, Mr Bedingfield could find himself drafting replies to his own parliamentary questions.
According to his work contract, obtained by this newspaper following a Freedom of Information request, Mr Bedingfield was employed at least until the end of last year as Dr Muscat’s person of trust, enjoying a financial package of more than €42,000 a year over and above his €20,000 honorarium as a member of Parliament.
It is not yet known whether Mr Bedingfield has had his contract renewed this year or has been awarded another government position. Despite several reminders, by the time of writing he had not replied to questions asking about his current job and whether he is still on the government’s payroll. Sources however said he is still frequently seen at Castille.
According to his contract – which entered into force on the day of the general election, June 3, 2017 – Mr Bedingfield, a personal friend of Dr Muscat, was employed on public service Scale 5, a top grade similar to one occupied by an assistant director.
Apart from his salary as a member of the Prime Minister’s private secretariat, the Labour MP also enjoys a raft of benefits including payments in lieu of overtime, a transport allowance of more than €4,600 a year and fully-paid mobile phone use.
Mr Bedingfield, who has been active in the Labour Party since the days of former Labour leader Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, spent years working alongside Dr Muscat as a Super One – now One – journalist.
Before the election he was an advisor to the Prime Minister while running his blog.
For a short time he had filled the seat vacated in Brussels by Dr Muscat after the latter resigned as MEP to become Labour leader. One of his parliamentary assistants then was today’s Principal Permanent Secretary, Mario Cutajar.
Mr Bedingfield’s contract stipulates that his attendance for work at the OPM “will be documented on a regular basis and as per schedule agreed upon between Mr Bedingfield and Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar”.
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