[WATCH] Judge denies PN leader’s request for publication of Egrant inquiry report

Court denies request by Opposition leader Adrian Delia for publication of Egrant inquiry report • Delia set to appeal decision

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia will file a constitutional appeal seeking a full copy of the Egrant inquiry report
Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia will file a constitutional appeal seeking a full copy of the Egrant inquiry report

Updated with Adrian Delia's reaction

The First Hall of the Civil Court has denied a request by Opposition leader Adrian Delia to be granted access to the full copy of the Egrant inquiry report.

The case was filed by Opposition leader Adrian Delia. The decision was handed down by Judge Robert Mangion.

Delia had filed the case after the conclusions from Magistrate Aaron Bugeja's inquiry on the ownership of the secret Panamanian company Egrant were published in July last year.

The Prime Minister, who was handed a full copy of the inquiry, had said that he wants the entire report to be published but the Attorney General has opposed any such a move.

In a reaction outside the law courts, Adrian Delia said he would appeal the decision in the Constitutional Court. “It is my duty that I fight this and request that the full report is publicised.”

Delia said the ruling itself recognised that the Egrant inquiry was a matter of public interest and the Opposition had a constitutional obligation to act as a watchdog.

"To fulfill my duty as a public watchdog, I will appeal the decision and ask the constitutional court of appeal to treat the matter with urgency," Delia said.

The AG had told the court that publishing the entire Egrant Inquiry report whilst redacting certain details was “not an option”.

Both Delia and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had testified in the court case. The conclusions from Magistrate Aaron Bugeja's inquiry on the ownership of the secret Panamanian company Egrant were published back in July, with the Prime Minister stating that he wanted the full inquiry published, despite the Attorney General’s resistance to such a move.  

Delia said it was the right of the PN leader to file Constitutional proceedings, referring to the AG’s argument that Delia had not exhausted his ordinary remedies.

Article 518 of the Criminal Code allows the AG to send the acts of an inquiry back to the inquiring magistrate until he is satisfied with it.

READ MORE: Egrant inquiry release will have to wait for Adrian Delia’s court case, Prime Minister says

The AG had argued that the Leader of the Opposition doesn’t have an investigative role and that this belonged to journalists. “The inquiry should not be used to have an MP try to acquire a document to use at the opportune moment to obtain a political advantage. So the PM or the Minister of Justice are either not politicians or in parliament because they have this document.

“Is the Leader of the Opposition supposed to sit down and wait for a journalist to write a story to inform the public? Because he isn’t a journalist? How can we come here and say that the role of the Leader of the Opposition isn’t that of a watchdog? Because the EU court only mentioned in relation to journalists? But that is because it never met such a case - this is the first time!”

READ MORE: Joseph Muscat sheds tears of relief after 15-month ordeal

The AG has insisted that a distinction had to be made between when the AG is acting in a quasi-judicial role and when taking an administrative decision. In the latter case, judicial review applies. The AG is also treated as a member of the executive branch of government in the Constitution, he said.

READ MORE: The conclusions of the Egrant magisterial inquiry report released by the Attorney General

In his 86-page judgment, Mr. Justice Robert Mangion pointed out that not every difference in treatment is discrimination. “Differentiation, in order to be legitimate, must base itself on objective and reasonable grounds, taking into consideration the objective and effect of the measures …there must be a reasonably proportionate rapport between the means employed and the objective in mind.”

Due to the fact that the inquiry could have led to the Prime Minister’s resignation, it emerges clearly that the Leader of the Opposition was not in the same position as the Prime Minister with regards to the Egrant inquiry report, said the judge, finding no breach of Delia’s fundamental rights.

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