[WATCH] Muscat: My friendship with Keith Schembri 'nothing to be ashamed of'

Prime Minister says his chief of staff had offered his resignation, including when reports alleged that Keith Schembri was terminally ill

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat (Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday)
Joseph Muscat on his friendship with Keith Schembri

Prime Minister and Labour leader Joseph Muscat has said that his friendship with his chief of staff l, Keith Schembri, was "nothing to be ashamed of".

Muscat was replying to questions asking whether it was because Schembri was his "best friend" - as a described in a mail shot by the same Schembri - that he didn't accept his resignation.

Schembri yesterday said that he had offered his resignation more than once.

"Friendship is not something to be accused of and friendship has nothing to do with the matter. And if there will be criminal proceedings, he will resign ... no friendship will stop that.

"I have paid the political price for my decision but it's for the people to decide now," he said, referring to the decision to retain Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi despite their involvement in Panama Papers.

Muscat said that Schembri had offered his resignation even when reports alleged that Schembri was terminally ill.

"A serious health matter was translated into something terminal which had left a big impact on his family, who were heartbroken. I definitely was not going to discard a person who needed support."

This morning, Opposition leader Simon Busuttil insisted that Muscat would have to go too if Schembri faces criminal proceedings.

For Muscat, this meant that Busuttil has "given up", arguing that by Busuttil's own yardstick, the same should be applied for the PN leader and his deputy, Beppe Fenech Adami in connection with the FIAU investigation of money laundering and drug trafficking.

Pointing out that the allegation of kickbacks from the LNG project were issued just an hour before he went live on debate with Busuttil, the Prime Minister accused the Leader of the Opposition of having "a criminal always by his side".

His reply came after a reporter asked him why he had chosen for retain "the criminals" at Castille.

"I am not referring to Beppe Fenech Adami," Muscat said. "Simon Busuttil has someone who is always around him, and all he has to do is turn around his head, who is involved in drugs."

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