Energy Minister testifies in libel suit: ‘there is no extramarital affair’

Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi says relationship with his communications coordinator is strictly professional

Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi
Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi

Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi has categorically denied ever having anything other than a professional relationship with his communications coordinator, Lindsey Gambin.

Mizzi was testifying in his libel suit against the Malta Independent columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who alleged that the two were conducting an extramarital affair.

“The post was based on a whole lie. I’m in politics and I can take criticism. However, in this case I believe a line was crossed,” he said, adding that he felt it to be a personal attack on him and his family.

Mizzi said that Gambin handles policy development, communications and implementation of projects for his ministry, and strenuously denied any illicit liaisons with her.

“There is not and there never has been any relationship, other than a professional one, between Lindsey Gambin and myself.”

Mizzi told the court how Caruana Galizia had stated on her blog that after being appointed Minister, he left the marital home and went to live alone in Sliema.

“In reality the Sliema house is one my wife and I bought together,” he said. “Daphne said that the relationship between myself and Lindsey was an open secret. This is absolutely not true, there is no open secret.”  

He described as a “total lie beyond imagination” Caruana Galizia’s claims of having seen the two kissing while in an intimate embrace, in the Tiffany Champagne and Cigar room at Portomaso.

He said that not only no “intimate embrace” took place with Gambin, but he also denied having being at Portomaso on the day alleged by Caruana Galizia.

“There were occasions where Lindsey and I would go out for business meetings and there was one occasion where we went to the Tiffany Cigar Room, together with some foreigners,” he said, adding that this however was not on the same day as alleged by the blogger.

Mizzi also denied that Gambin had accompanied him on an official visit to Beijing.

On the subject of his relationship with his wife, Sai, he said that they were happy together, in spite of the difficulties.

“The fact that she is in another country does not mean the relationship isn’t strong. We meet often and we have two children together,” he said.

He referred to another post on Caruana Galizia’s blog during which she called for the publication of Sai Mizzi’s contract as a Malta Enterprise envoy to China. Mizzi said that her contract had been tabled in Parliament before that post had even been published.

He explained the damage caused to him by the blog post on both a personal and professional level, saying that he does not want his wife to have any reason to doubt his fidelity and that his status as an elected representative meant that the allegations could sow doubts in voters' minds

“As a Minister I have a reputation to maintain,” he added.

Mizzi said that it has also placed him in an awkward position when working with Gambin: “I shouldn’t be put in a position where other people are thinking certain things about me.

“I work with her every day. I do not want people to give us dirty looks whenever we are seen in public.”

In another, unconnected, libel sitting before Magistrate Francesco Depasquale this morning, the Minister categorically denied allegations by Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil and MP George Pullicino regarding his “close ties” with Louis Attard.

Attard is charged with energy theft in connection with the smart meter tampering scandal.

“Louis Attard is not someone I appointed, I found him there. He is not from my Electoral District. I am categorically denying that I helped Louis Attard,” said Mizzi, adding that that he never interfered with the case and had not spoken to the police about it.

Mizzi was represented by lawyer Aaron Mifsud Bonnici and lawyer Alex Sciberras appeared for Gambin.  Lawyer Joseph Zammit Maempel is representing Caruana Galizia.