Updated 17.50

Chris Fearne has reconfirmed his resignation as Deputy Prime Minister and Government Minister responsible for European Funds, Equality, Reforms and Social Dialogue with immediate effect, following charges linked to the vitals scandal.

He first announced his resignation earlier on Friday (today) in a resignation letter penned to Prime Minister Robert Abela. Dr Fearne said that prior to making the decision, he would have preferred to have the accusations and verbal process of the magisterial inquiry in hand. “However, given that these seem to be taking long, it is not possible for me to keep on waiting. The country, including its democratic and European institutions, deserve nothing less,” he added.

He has also requested the removal of his nomination for the European Commission.

In a reply to the letter, Prime Minister Abela had urged Dr Fearne to reconsider his decision, stating that he has repeatedly expressed the former Health Minister’s integrity and abilities in a public manner.

“In the toughest moments for our country, I have not only had you as a shoulder to rest on, but the country has benefitted greatly from your abilities. This was also noted at an international level,” Dr Abela said.

“I repeat that I have full trust in you,” he reaffirmed.

This request was not upheld, however, with Mr Fearne reconfirming his decision to resign in a subsequent letter penned to the PM (pictured above). He thanked the Prime Minister for showing trust in his integrity, and described his service to the country as a Deputy Prime Minister and Government Minister as "the biggest privilege of his life".

Friday's developments come a few days after the news broke that a number of politicians, civil servants, and businesses are facing charges related to the Vitals scandal, a deal to privatise three state hospitals that saw around €400 million in public funds being spent. The deal, pushed by former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his administration, was later annulled by court and is now engulfed in legal proceedings.

Dr Fearne, who at the time of the Vitals deal was serving as Health Minister, is among those named in the magisterial inquiry, facing charges related to alleged fraud, misappropriation, and fraudulent gain related to the hospital deal.

In his resignation letter, Dr Fearne remarked that while he is still not certain about what he is being accused of, he knows what he’s done and what he hasn’t as Minister. “Nobody more than me can be certain that when Court investigates me, it will only see that I am innocent,” Dr Fearne continued.

Dr Fearne added that in three other reports on the case, the Auditor General had cleared him of any guilt. “These are the clear facts about me. I have always done my duty with integrity and correctness, and I have never shifted towards breaking the law,” he affirmed.

“My parents from my childhood had taught me to do what is right at every moment and circumstance. I have always done so and will continue to do so. Political propriety, the institutions of a European and democratic country, the oath I took as Government Minister, and the loyalty towards the party that I have given my life for, also require this. In the present circumstances – and because I respect the institutions so much – I feel that I cannot keep honouring these sacrosanct obligations as I have always done. My duty in politics is to only do good for this country, its institutions, and its people,” he said.

Dr Fearne stated that he is taking this decision not because he has any doubts about his innocence, but because he feels it is the right thing to do.

He expressed his hopes that the judicial process proceeds quickly so that his name is cleared “as soon as possible,” and that if the country requires him to serve it again, he’d be in a position to do so.

Dr Fearne said that he hopes the judicial process proceeds quickly so that his name is cleared “as soon as possible, and if the country calls for me again, I’d be in a position to serve it once again.”

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Written By

Fabrizio Tabone

Fabrizio has a passion for the economy and technology, especially when it comes to innovation. Aside from this, he also has a passion for football and movies, and so you will often find him either with a ball to his feet or at the cinema checking out the latest releases.