Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà and the Home Affairs Ministry have rejected the conclusions of two investigations by the ombudsman which found that the process used to promote assistant commissioners in 2016 was “defective”.

However, they said that they were considering a fresh call for applications.

In a letter to the ombudsman, Gafà and the ministry’s permanent secretary, Kevin Mahoney said they disagreed with the conclusions reached in the cases of former superintendent Carmelo Bartolo and Superintendent Ray D’Anastas.

The entire promotion process, they insisted, had adhered to the procedures established by the Public Service Commission.

“While we do not agree with the conclusions… we are considering issuing a fresh call for the promotion to the role of assistant commissioner at the opportune time,” they wrote in their letter.

Ombudsman Anthony Mifsud had found that former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar led “a parody of a selection process”, choosing people based on personal trust rather than experience and seniority.

In the case involving Bartolo, the ombudsman described the process as being “vitiated” and “defective”. 

The selection board was chaired by Cutajar himself, with former assistant commissioner Josie Brincat and Joseph Mangani as members.

Fourteen applicants went through to the next stage of selection while seven were failed.

The ombudsman found that Bartolo and D’Anastas were the victims of discrimination and that the failure to promote them caused them to suffer an injustice. 

A parody of a selection process

The positions were awarded to other people who did not deserve the promotion, the ombudsman found. A number of them had only just completed their probation as superintendents.

The manual that should have been used in the selection process was ignored, the ombudsman reported.

But Gafà and Mahoney have insisted that the process rigorously followed procedure.

They said that recruitment to senior positions within the force was adhering to one of the principles in its transformation strategy: to bring its workforce to the “right size and shape”.

Since Gafà took over as police commissioner, there had been a call for the appointment for deputy commissioners and that process, too, was rigorous.

No complaints had been filed.

This showed, they said, how seriously the police force was taking its recruitment.

In his reply to their letter, Mifsud noted their disagreement with the conclusions but reiterated that his investigation found clear deficiencies in the selection process for one of the highest positions within the force.

The fact that the Public Service Commission had accepted the result did not mean that the process used was correct and the police administration should not use this as an excuse, he said.

Mifsud hoped that a fresh call for assistant commissioner would be issued, which would include the complainants, and that Bartolo and D’Anastas would receive moral damages if not.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us