Updated | Labour accuses Azzopardi of lying over Abela’s statements to MEPs

Labour MP’s comments to MEPs on MSS statement denying knowledge of Caruana Galizia murder plot raised in the House

Labour MP Robert Abela
Labour MP Robert Abela

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi has questioned statements by Labour MP Roberta Abela to the three MEPs investigating alleged breaches of rule of law in Malta about Security Service telephonic intercepts on the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Azzopardi, lawyer to the journalist’s family, said that in the report by MEPs David Casa, Ana Gomes, and Sven Giegold – circulated to all the persons who met the MEPs – an MP suggested that he was aware of classified information related to the phone intercepts.

Azzopardi was speaking in the adjournment of Tuesday's parliamentary sitting. His comments invited derision from the Labour Party, who accused him of abusing of his parliamentary privilege.

Quoting parts of the report, Azzopardi said the Prime Minister’s own consultant Robert Abela had mentioned that in the phone intercepts carried out by the Malta Security Services, no mention was made of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

“This can only mean one of two things: either, that MP Robert Abela has had access to, came in possession of, or was given information which is classified in an illegal way and which is not even available to the inquiring Magistrate; or he was bluffing, and thus lying, in the face of the three MEPs,” Azzopardi said.

“In both situations it is of tremendous gravity, seriousness and concern that an MP, more so since he is the PM’s consultant, shows that he has had access to secret classified info or gives the impression that he has had such access.”

Phone intercepts of third parties can only be acquired by the Malta Security Services (MSS) and only after a warrant issued according to law. Such recordings, or phone intercepts, are available only to the MSS and to the prime minister and home affairs minister.

But Labour accused Azzopardi of lying, saying that Abela was referring to a statement issued on 1 May by the Malta Security Services that had denied allegations of Azzopardi himself, who had claimed that the MSS had information of an impending plan to murder Caruana Galizia.

On his part, Abela said “Once again the PN shows it is ready to do anything to attack Malta's name, but this country haspeople to defend it.”

Azzopardi yesterday insisted that the Prime Minister was responsible for Abela's comments. “The buck stops with the PM: he needs to own up: did he grant illegal access to his MPs of phone intercepts by the MSS in a criminal investigation? If not, is it acceptable for him for his MPs to go round bluffing their way and through their teeth when meeting MEPs in order to feel important on such a serious matter? If not, is it acceptable for him that his MPs mislead deliberately MEPs?”