Updated August 11 with minister's reaction

The Standards Commissioner has decided to discontinue an investigation into the manner how Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri ordered infrastructural works to be carried out in Comino in 2021.

The investigation was sparked by a complaint by independent election candidate Arnold Cassola.

Gozo Ministry workers had in 2021 resurfaced a road leading to Comino's Blue Lagoon, arguing that the works were an "emergency" to stop the road from caving in. 

They did so without applying for a planning permit. 

The environmental regulator, ERA, had initially ordered a halt to the works, noting that the resurfacing works had caused "extensive overspill". Comino is a Natura 2000 site in its entirety. 

ERA eventually allowed works to resume. 

The Ombudsman then looked into the matter concluded that the works ordered in Comino by the minister were not covered by the required permits,.

The ministry presented the Ombudsman with correspondence indicating that the Planning Authority had waived the need for obtaining a permit.    

In his report, parliament's Standards Commissioner noted the contrasting opinions. 

That put him in a difficult position, he said, and his office had no technical competence to delve deeper into the matter.  He however expressed solidarity with the Ombudsman.

The commissioner's decision, published by Cassola, can be found in the pdf below.

Camilleri, the Gozo Minister, reacted by noting that the Standards Commissioner had found no indication of anything illegal or that the works were done to help a private entity, as had been alleged. 

Nor was there necessarily anything wrong with issuing works by direct order, the minister said.

Camilleri, a lawyer by profession, also expressed frustration with the way investigation requests to the Standards Commissioner are made, and argued that the burden of proof should be on those who file requests. 

"Instead of presenting proof, they are presenting allegations," he said of complainants. 

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