UPDATED | Forensic analyst deems Tony Zarb recordings as ‘maliciously edited’

Foreign forensic analyst deems the GWU boss Tony Zarb secret recordings as ‘maliciously edited’ and ‘unreliable’, PN insists recording 'not manipulated'

GWU lawyer Aron Mifsud Bonnici
GWU lawyer Aron Mifsud Bonnici

A forensic analyst has concluded that the two secretly recorded controversial clips of General Workers' Union Secretary General Tony Zarb were "maliciously edited" and "cannot be relied upon as an accurate portrayal of the conversation."

The two recordings were at the heart of accusations by the Nationalist Party that the GWU was hinting that the union could influence government tendering if Labour is elected to power.

The recordings were released by Nationalist party organ In-Nazzjon in early February.

Later it transpired that the person who recorded the conversation was Dominic Gafà 51, a director of the company Mach Clean Ltd which at some point was awarded a cleaning services tender by a government department.

However the Nationalist Party later countered by insisting that it had not manipulated the recordings in any way, and reiterated its accusations at the GWU and Zarb that the GWU was trying to encouraging contractors to join it by promising to assist them in tendering procurement.

"The Nationalist Party is still insisting that its position with regard to the recordings where GWU general secretary Tony Zarb is heard encouraging contractors to join the union, and assist them to secure tenders and accommodate them in doing so, is still the same as it was before the election."

"The recording was not tampered with in any way or changed outside of its context," the PN insisted.

The PN said it had "welcomed" journalist's request to listen to the whole recording, and insisted that "everyone could confirm that the conversation was not manipulated or taken outside of its context." The invitation was however not extended to MaltaToday.

"The only editing that was done was done only so that the interest of the identity of person in the meeting with Zarb be protected," the PN claimed.

The PN insisted that "there is no doubt that the GWU is resorting to any tactic to create doubt regarding the libel case that it had opened itself, and defend itself through intimidation and also by irresponsibly trying to influence the case."

The PN reiterated that "everything was done correctly" and said that the recording was kept within the context of what was heard, "as emerges from the fact that neither the GWU nor Tony Zarb have ever denied that this conversation was held, or denied what was said in it."

Earlier in a press conference on Monday, the GWU unveiled a report that union lawyer Aron Mifsud Bonnici said was in the union's hands since late February and which concluded that the minute-long recordings were composed of multiple splices and snippets of conversations.

The report was drawn up by forensic analyst Ian McArcthur who specialises in audio and video analysis, who studied forensics in the United States, posseses 18 year's experience as a forensic analyst, and has done work for the UK Police.

Holding aloft the report, Mifsud Bonnici said that McArcthur determined that while the first clip featured five 'edits' and was composed of six different clips spliced together, the second clip had two 'edits' and was composed of three different snippets joined together.

Both clips, which are still available on YouTube today, are each little over a minute long.

"The analyst determined that whomever edited the clips, did so for clearly malicious reason in a very crude manner," Mifsud Bonnici said.

He also said that the analyst had also based his conclusions on the fact that the same identical 'snippet' of conversation ("imbgħad taħseb") had been repeated in both clips, further confirming that the clips were not genuine and had been tempered with.

"I would have to say that I could not rely on this recording as safe due to gaps illustrating that it was crudely compiled together and how the two clips begin identically but then progress very differently. This is sign of malicious editing or of tampering of the recordings," Mifsud Bonnici said, quoting from the expert's conclusions.

"This report further reinforces our position that the conversation does not reflect the story of the General Workers' Union and its fight against precarious employment," Mifsud Bonnici said.

He however said that given that the report had been commissioned with the intent for use as part of GWU boss Tony Zarb's libel cases in connection with the recording, it would be presented in court on Friday in the first court hearing.

Mifsud Bonnici said that for the purposes of his analysis, the analyst had based himself off the clips that are available on YouTube, given that the entire recording was not publically available as the PN had insisted on keeping it under wraps.

Mifsud Bonnici augured that despite the PN's lack of willingness to publish the entire length of Zarb's conversation with Dominic Gafa so far, it would be willing to do so in the course of the upcoming libel case hearings.

Asked why the GWU had opted to wait till now to unveil the report's findings, Mifsud Bonnici cited two reasons.

The first was that the GWU felt that its fight against precarious work was being politicised, and that it did not want to further involve itself in the political squabble that was developing.

The second was that the report had been commissioned specifically for the purposes of the libel cases, and was being presented now only because the first hearing was set to take place on Friday.

Speaking about the report, Tony Zarb himself said that the conclusions vindicate the GWU's position on the issue throughout the campaign, and that he is now expecting those who called for his resignation to withdraw their statements and apologise.

"By this, I am referring to Lawrence Gonzi, Simo Busuttil, and Paul Borg Olivier, among others," Zarb said, while categorically refuting that he had ever made the statements that the PN are accusing him of making.

In the same press conference, Zarb went on to release the names of another batch of companies which the GWU is accusing of engaging in precarious work practices.

These are cleaning contractors Bad Boy Cleaners, Gafa Saveway, and Cleantech, along with an unnamed minivan company, which he accused of either paying employees below minimum wage, underpaying or not paying over-time, and not allowing workers days off or sick leave.

Zarb said that the four contractors employ in total between 200 and 300 employees.

Zarb said that the GWU would be adopting a name-and-shame approach, saying that after it had outed several other companies with similarly precarious working conditions, several had forward to blow the whistle on their own employers.

"Some of those companies that the GWU mentioned have aleady approached the union and are trying to improve the situation in their respecting sectors," Zarb said.

"We have however notified the Director of Employment of the situation with Gafa Saveway, and the company is currently under investigation."

He noted that while some cases end up in court, he said that this is not preferable as in such instances court cases tended to drag on for years, leaving workers to suffer the consequences in the interim.

Saying that the GWU would be exploring all options to ensure that the situation is resolved before then, he called on the media to investigate such instances and put pressure on those employers who actively abuse their employees.

He added that the GWU is also pressuring government to adopt the approach whereby those companies caught perpetrating precarious employment or employing people abusively are blacklisted from government contracts and have their existing contracts terminated immediately.

Forensic analyst deems Tony Zarb recordings as ‘maliciously edited’--- and WHAT, precisely, does he intend to do about it it? Not much I expect.
ISTHU. ISTHU. ISTHU. These are the people who try and portray an image of holier than thou. An image of protectors of the Catholic Church in Malta. The sooner the Church in Malta realizes that GONZIPN were the AntiChrist and stops its support for them the sooner will the Church regain its status with the People. For how can these people face GOD when they tried to destroy the honest reputation of so many people during the Election Campaign just to keep hold on absolute power through corrupt and malicious ways. ISTHU. ISTHU. ISTHU.