Supermarket boss told us Camilleri paid him €5,000 after shoplifting incident – Times editor

Valyou Supermarket director told Times editor and managing director that he agreed to a €5,000 payment programme after estimating over €12,000 in goods had gone missing

Ivan Camilleri was sacked from The Times in December 2019
Ivan Camilleri was sacked from The Times in December 2019

A director of Valyou Supermarket had told the editor-in-chief of The Times, and the newspaper’s managing director, that former reporter Ivan Camilleri had agreed to a €5,000 payment programme over alleged reports of pilfering.

Herman Grech, the editor of The Times, and Allied Newspapers director Michel Rizzo, both told a court that supermarket Ray Mintoff had confidentially confirmed the payment that had to be made by former Times reporter Ivan Camilleri, during a two-hour meeting around the 11 or 12 December.

Camilleri was reported by MaltaToday of having pilfered various goods from the supermarket; MaltaToday managing editor Saviour Balzan sued Camilleri for libel when he alleged on Facebook that he had lied in his report.

Both Grech and Rizzo, testifying as witnesses in the libel case and counter-suits filed by Camilleri, told the court that Mintoff had suggested higher values of goods that had gone missing in connection with the Ivan Camilleri incident.

“Originally Mintoff downplayed the incident when the story was reported,” Grech told the court. “He had said the story was not as it was, and something like ‘these are things that happen’. So we felt that we had to defend Ivan.”

But in December, Grech and Rizzo decided to speak to Mintoff once again because of “repeated stories” that suggested they were not being told the truth. “We were told that we had the wrong version of the story… we confronted Mintoff, who told us he had downplayed the incident because he didn’t want to be in the public eye.”

Grech said Mintoff had told them that the events concerning missing goods had been going on for “months, if not years”, and that he originally “wanted to kill the story”.

“Mintoff said there was over €12,000 in missing items, but that he had agreed for Ivan to pay €5,000.”

Rizzo confirmed Grech’s version of the events, suggesting that Mintoff had mentioned an even higher value of goods that had gone missing over the past months before Camilleri’s shoplifting incident was reported in MaltaToday.

“Camilleri had told us the incident was a one-off,” Rizzo told the court. “Mintoff had at first said the incident was a storm in a teacup… when we started hearing more stories about the incident, we took it a step further and went to meet Mintoff at the Valyou supermarket in Mellieha.

“He said a number of articles had been stolen over the past months, amounting to anything over €15,000… Mintoff took us in confidence, realising this was a serious story, he sort of gave in, deciding to disclose the information that Camilleri had agreed to pay €5,000.”

Mintoff has already admitted under cross-examination that he had accepted €5,000 from the former Times journalist to ostensibly settle any doubts on two separate occasions that had been flagged. “The sum [Camilleri] paid was €5,000,” Mintoff admitted. “He paid them in two payments of €2,500.”

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