[WATCH] Attorney General emailed full copy of Egrant inquiry to Justice minister, court hears

AG Peter Grech insisted that making the entire report public would reveal methods and banking information related to third parties who are not in the public sphere

Attorney General Peter Grech told the court that he had emailed a copy of the full Egrant inquiry to Justice minister Owen Bonnici
Attorney General Peter Grech told the court that he had emailed a copy of the full Egrant inquiry to Justice minister Owen Bonnici

The Attorney General (AG) has told a court that he had emailed a copy of the full Egrant inquiry to Justice minister Owen Bonnici, despite refusing to give a copy to the Leader of the Opposition.

AG Peter Grech took the witness stand before Judge Robert Mangion for a lengthy grilling by lawyer Vince Galea, appearing for Opposition leader Adrian Delia, who is demanding a copy of the inquiry. The Attorney General has so far refused to pass on a copy.

Grech had forwarded the inquiry to Bonnici as an attachment to a blank email, he said.

“After midday I had received a letter from Dr [Pawlu] Lia on behalf of the Prime Minister and his wife saying that the inquiry should be published…I didn’t feel it was right to just up and publish the inquiry as it was voluminous and needed to be read through.”

Doing so would reveal methods and banking information related to third parties who were not in the public sphere, he said.

“I felt the PM’s argument was valid as he needed the full evidential basis of the inquiry. In my opinion…to be released to the PM, I felt this should be upheld. Subsequently the PM was taking advice to see whether or not to publish the inquiry. The Minister for Justice asked if I had an electronic copy and I passed it on to him as he is a lawyer who was assisting the PM in the analysis of the inquiry.”

Galea seized on this point. “Is the Minister for Justice therefore a lawyer for the Prime Minister?”

“I know he was assisting him on the topic of the inquiry and therefore I passed on a copy to him,” the AG said. “I understand that the Prime Minister isn’t going to be looking at it alone, he has people assisting him in studying it.”

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia
Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia

Asked if the copy given to the Prime Minister had been altered, Grech replied that “the office of the AG doesn’t redact its inquiries.”           

Galea pressed the Attorney General as to why he had not released a copy to the Leader of the Opposition or at least informed him that it had been concluded, but Grech replied that he had released a statement once he was given a copy of the report.

“I made it clear in the statement I released in July that the inquiry wasn’t going to be published in full, despite requests coming in from all angles. It contained private banking information belonging to people who had nothing to do with the issue…I didn’t feel it was right to be made public.”

Grech said this inquiry was different from those into the Paqpaqli crash or PlusOne collapse – both of which were made public – in that “this one has parts that need to be investigated further. Publishing could cause harm to privacy and future investigations,” he explained.

Galea then asked whether he had in the past ever shown journalists copies of inquiries.

“There was a case where someone died at Depot and it was decided where the process verbal be made available to journalists, but copies were not given. The same with an inquiry into an explosion at a fireworks factory. The PlusOne and Paqpaqli inquiries I had given copies to the minister of justice on his request. I knew he was going to publish them.”

But those inquiries had conclusively finished, blame allocated and people arraigned, he said. This was not the case with Egrant. 

“Were the conclusions published in their entirety?” asked Galea. “The principal conclusions were,” replied the Attorney General.

The case continues on October 9

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