Updated 9.45am with PN statement below -

No applications were received for the role of state advocate following a public call that closed last Wednesday.

The role was vacated by Victoria Buttigieg after she was appointed attorney gene­ral earlier this month. 

Sources said the commission running the application process will be issuing a fresh call.

“Some potential candidates feared both potential interference from the government as well as undue pressure from the opposition and so chose not to submit their names,” a senior government official told Times of Malta.

The function of state advocate is a new one, with Buttigieg originally being the first appointed to the role last December.

The state advocate is the chief legal advisor to the government, a function that used to be carried out by the attorney general.

While the attorney general retained responsibility for prosecutions and criminal matters, the state advocate is responsible for all government advisory and legal representation functions in the field of constitutional, civil and administrative law.

The changes to the attorney general’s functions came about as part of a package of rule of law reforms proposed by the Venice Commission in December 2018.

The dual function of the attorney general as both a prosecutor and advisor to the government had long drawn criticism from international bodies.

PN: Confirmation of a lack of confidence in the government

Shadow minister Jason Azzopardi in a statement on Sunday said the fact that no lawyer had applied for the post of state advocate reflected a lack of confidence in the government. No lawyer wanted to be associated with the government through such a position because none had confidence in the government as a client who would not interfere.

The current situation proved how right the PN had been when it said that the government's abuse of the institutions would cause irreparable harm, Azzopardi said.  

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