Silly season’s billboard feud: Labour hits back with Jason Azzopardi hotel freebie

Jason Azzopardi features in Labour’s billboard in Msida over having received a free stay at the Tel Aviv Hilton, courtesy of Tumas magnate Ray Fenech

The summer heat is no match for the political silly season: Labour has hit out at a Nationalist Party billboard lampooning a minister’s mockery of voters, with one lampooning opposition MP Jason Azzopardi’s holiday freebie from the Tumas Group.

Azzopardi, whose role as lawyer to the Caruana Galizia family put him centre-stage in the fight against Labour corruption, features in Labour’s billboard in Msida over having received a free stay at the Tel Aviv Hilton, courtesy of Tumas magnate Ray Fenech.

Fenech is the uncle of former Tumas CEO Yorgen Fenech, the alleged mastermind in the assassination of the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The billboard features Azzopardi exiting the Tel Aviv Hilton and the speech bubble ‘Grazzi Yorgen’ (“thank you, Yorgen), mimicking the ‘Grazzi Ġaħan’ billboard lampooning justice minister Edward Zammit Lewis. The then-MP’s WhatsApp chats with Yorgen Fenech from 2019, at a time when it was known Fenech was the owner of the secret Dubai company 17 Black, revealed a conversation in which Zammit Lewis derides “Labour fools”.

Azzopardi was also given a halo in the billboard, given that his former wife told the press that at the time of the Tel Aviv holiday, the couple were undergoing a difficult moment and that Azzopardi claimed he wanted to go to the Holy Land and meditate in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. A ‘Tomb of Christ Experience’ advert can be seen in the right-hand background of the billboard image.

The Zammit Lewis texts’ context is as yet unknown. One of the exchanges happened just after Zammit Lewis, then a backbench MP, had addressed a press conference with Robert Abela, then also a backbench MP, criticising former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil over attempts to initiate an inquiry into Fenech’s offshore company 17 Black.

He has since offered no apology for his comment, insisting the context was in relation to the electoral system and how it needed to better encourage the politics of service.