Updated | PN: Google advisors’ exchange of info with Fenech ‘normal practice’

Beppe Fenech Adami says Prime Minister defends Peter Paul Zammit on alleged privacy breach but hits out at public officials who formed part of shadow finance minister’s Google group

PN deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami
PN deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami

Shadow home affairs minister Beppe Fenech Adami has insisted that former commissioner of police Peter Paul Zammit is responsible for the alleged leak of evidence that MaltaToday submitted in its defence in a libel suit filed by police inspector Elton Taliana.

The claim stems from a report by the data protection commissioner, who said that the Taliana file had been requested by Zammit during his year-long tenure as police commissioner between 2013 and 2014.

The evidence was submitted by MaltaToday managing editor Saviour Balzan in March 2015. But both Balzan and Zammit have denied the data protection commissioner’s conjecture, saying that Saviour Cachia did not seek them out for a comment on the allegation.

The privacy complaint was filed by Taliana himself, after the evidence presented in court showed that the inspector had been investigated internally over his moonlighting as a bouncer, firearms importation, and suspicions on his role in the arson on Saviour Balzan’s front door.

Fenech Adami today reiterated the claim that Zammit “was found guilty” for having had the leak take place under his watch.

When challenged about the fact that both Zammit and Balzan had denied the alleged exchange, Fenech Adami replied that the PN’s stand was based on what the data protection commissioner had written in the report. “Zammit has a lot to answer for as to how this filed ended up in the hands of third parties.”

In reply to a MaltaToday question, Fenech Adami also said that home affairs minister Carmel Abela should make the necessary investigations into allegations of a business association between the family of former acting police commissioner Ray Zammit, and Joe Gaffarena, whose son-in-law’s murder charges were prosecuted by Zammit’s son Daniel Zammit – recently embroiled in controversy for having been medically boarded out from the corps before being drafted into a €60,000 internal audit position at Enemalta. “The Maltese public needs to have its faith in the police force restored,” Fenech Adami said.

“Instead of acting like a prime minister, Joseph Muscat defends Zammit while he accuses three men who advised Tonio Fenech on finances as ‘spies’,” Fenech Adami said.

He was referring to the employees in the National Statistics Office, the Central Bank, and Fenech’s former spokesperson who now works at the Malta Financial Services Authority, who are believed to have breached the public service management code by taking part during office hours in a Google Group exchanging notes on Tonio Fenech’s positions on finance matters; and also possibly having briefed him on confidential data obtained from their roles, before it had been published.

“Labour’s attack on these officials is a systematic campaign… their sharing of information is normal practice in a democracy and they are being singled out because of their different opinion. It is unacceptable that they go through such torment, now that two of them have been suspended from work.”

Fenech Adami claimed that Muscat and his deputy leader Toni Abela were “attacking three family men and endangering their livelihood.”

Instead, he accused Peter Paul Zammit of having tarnished the reputation of Elton Taliana in his role over the wrongful arrest of Daryl Luke Borg; of taking criminal steps against former MEP candidate Norman Vella on allegations of taking mobile phone photos in a restricted area; of not taking criminal steps against a man who assaulted police officers in the Zabbar police station; and not investigating John Dalli on the alleged Dalligate bribes.

“Muscat is defending Zammit’s job as CHOGM security chief while being unable to guarantee that under this government, private information does remain private because Muscat will persecute anyone who does not agree with him,” Fenech Adami said.