[WATCH] Top government official testifies in Egrant court case

Opposition leader Adrian Delia is challenging in court the Attorney General’s refusal to hand him the full copy of the Egrant inquiry that exonerated the Prime Minister and his wife

The Egrant inquiry report in the Prime Minister's office
The Egrant inquiry report in the Prime Minister's office

A hard copy of the full Egrant inquiry sits "under lock and key" inside the office of government head of communications Kurt Farrugia, the court heard this morning.

Farrugia was the only witness to take the stand in the case filed by Opposition leader Adrian Delia against the Attorney General, over the publication of the Egrant inquiry report.

Delia is challenging the AG's decision refusing him access to the full report. The case is being heard in front of Judge Robert Mangion.

The conclusions of the Egrant inquiry were released last July but the AG has so far objected to the publication of the full findings despite the Prime Minister insisting he wanted the full report to be published.

The Prime Minister was handed the full report.

Lawyer Vincent Galea is appearing for Delia, while lawyers Maurizio Cordina and Victoria Buttigieg are appearing for the AG.

Head of government communication Kurt Farrugia
Head of government communication Kurt Farrugia

In today’s sitting, Kurt Farrugia said he was occasionally asked by the Prime Minister to check certain aspects from the inquiry but insisted he never discussed the contents with anyone else.

Farrugia said he always stuck to the public conclusions whenever discussing the inquiry with third parties. Witnesses are prohibited from divulging the contents of the report in this case, which is about the AG's refusal to hand over a copy to the Opposition leader.

10:13 The sitting has ended. The case continues on 10 December. Kurt Sansone
10:06 Asked if he excluded there ever being anyone else present when the PM discussed the matter with him, Farrugia says he does. Kurt Sansone
10:06 Farrugia: "In my role, it doesn't mean that I communicate everything the PM says. Sometimes he asks me for advice on what to say or what not to say. It doesn't mean I go to the media with everything." Kurt Sansone
10:05 There is resistance to questions about the content of the inquiry. The court case is not about the content of the inquiry but about the AG’s refusal to hand over a full copy to the Opposition leader. Kurt Sansone
10:04 Farrugia: "I'm not authorised to answer that question." Kurt Sansone
10:03 Galea: "What kind of questions was the PM asking?" Kurt Sansone
10:03 RECAP: Lawyer Vince Galea, appearing for Adrian Delia is questioning, the government head of communications Kurt Farrugia over his knowledge of the Egrant inquiry and with whom he discussed the non-public parts of it. Kurt Sansone
10:02 Farrugia: "Generally, my requests to check things would come from the PM. Afterwards, since I am not a legal person, I would consult with either Lia or the Justice Minister." Kurt Sansone
10:01 Galea: "What would you be talking about on the subject which is not public?" Kurt Sansone
10:01 Farrugia: "Once or twice." Kurt Sansone
10:00 Galea: “Lawyers?” Kurt Sansone
10:00 Farrugia: “Yes.” Kurt Sansone
10:00 Galea: "The justice minister?" Kurt Sansone
10:00 Farrugia: “Yes.” Kurt Sansone
09:59 Galea: “Did you discuss the non-public part of the inquiry with the PM?” Kurt Sansone
09:59 Vince Galea asks whether Farrugia had discussed the rest of the inquiry with anyone else. He is referring to the fact that the PM had mentioned "forgeries". Kurt Sansone
09:58 Farrugia says the inquiry into Egrant caused a lot of anxiety... our future depended on it. “We obviously spoke about it.” Kurt Sansone
09:57 "No," Carbone had no access to the inquiry, Farrugia says. "I keep it under lock and key. Carbone had not read the inquiry.” Kurt Sansone
09:56 Galea is asking if Farrugia had discussed the rest of the inquiry with Matthew Carbone, who works in the OPM communications office. Kurt Sansone
09:56 Farrugia answers “no”. Kurt Sansone
09:55 Reading from the conclusions of the inquiry Vince Galea notes that Schembri had been in contact with Willerby Trading, which is the subject of another inquiry. Galea asks if Farrugia's superiors had asked him to check this. Kurt Sansone
09:54 The AG is objecting to the mention of Schembri and the court upholds the objection. Galea reformulates his question. Kurt Sansone
09:54 Vince Galea: "In the conclusions, Keith Schembri is mentioned... in the principal conclusions, John Dalli, Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi..." Kurt Sansone
09:53 Kurt Farrugia: “You had such a grave accusation against the PM for 15 months which he had bound his political future to. For 15 whole months, we had to defend ourselves from a story that was completely fabricated. These were things I had been saying for 15 months. The conclusions were a confirmation of what we had been saying... Nobody asked me what was on page 100 etc.” Kurt Sansone
09:52 Farrugia says he never had to discuss the content of the inquiry and whenever he had conversations with people it was always about the conclusions. Kurt Sansone
09:51 Farrugia: “No.” Kurt Sansone
09:51 Vince Galea: “Didn't any minister ask you anything? His chief of staff? Did anyone ask you to read the inquiry?” Kurt Sansone
09:51 Kurt Farrugia: "I don't take direction from the AG. I discussed it with nobody else." Kurt Sansone
09:50 Court interrupts saying Galea needs to rephrase the question. Kurt Sansone
09:48 Lawyer Vince Galea: "The AG gave us a completely different picture. He told us that he imposed no condition. Now you are saying that the Justce Minister, lawyer Pawlu Lia…” Kurt Sansone
09:47 Kurt Farrugia: "The conclusions were very clear that there wasn't much wiggle room in the outcome." Kurt Sansone
09:47 Lawyer Luke Dalli, son of Equality Minister Helena Dalli, has been sent to the back for commenting under his breath, possibly to the witness. Dalli was seated right behind the witness stand. Kurt Sansone
09:46 Farrugia is asked whether he had any prohibition form anyone to publish. Kurt Sansone
09:45 Farrugia says he does not have an electronic copy and reiterates that the PM wanted to publish it. Kurt Sansone
09:45 Kurt Farrugia: "I never had to discuss the inquiry per se, because my role deals with communicating the public aspects. If the conclusions are public then I used the conclusions. I had no reason to discuss it with the AG." Kurt Sansone
09:45 A copy of the inquiry is still in Farrugia's office. Kurt Sansone
09:45 Farrugia says he hadn’t read the entire report. “I always followed the conclusions.” Kurt Sansone
09:44 Farrugia: “The conclusions were so detailed that I didn’t need to go any deeper in order to prepare for the PM’s speech. The PM wrote a lot of the statement himself since this matter was so personal to him.” Kurt Sansone
09:44 Kurt Farrugia says he physically collected his copy of the inquiry on Sunday morning from the Prime Minister’s office. “I started writing and helping the PM in writing the statement on Sunday morning.” Kurt Sansone
09:44 Kurt Farrugia: “The PM told me he was going to request a copy and intended to publish it… I recall Pawlu Lia [the PM’s lawyer] saying the conclusion was clear and unambiguous.” Kurt Sansone
09:44 Vincent Galea asks him about his copy of the Egrant report. Kurt Sansone
09:44 Answering to questions on how he handled party and government policies: “The PM is the leader of the PL too so there are times when I must sometimes pass on to the PL head of communications too.” Kurt Sansone
09:43 “As a government consultant I don’t have much contact with the PL, when I do it’s through director of communications Aleander Balzan.” Kurt Sansone
09:42 Head of government communications Kurt Farrugia takes the stand. Kurt Sansone

Government reaction

Reacting to Delia’s comments outside the law courts, where he described he situation as "surreal", the government said in a statement that what was actually surreal were Delia's own statements.

"According to Delia, there is a surreal situation because the Opposition is suffering a political imbalance," it said, "This is, from the outset, an incorrect argument, because the Oppostion leader himself had admitted that the Egrant inquiry's conclusions where so clear that, on their basis, he had wanted to dismiss Simon Busuttil."

"After all, the political imbalance wasn't suffered by Delia, but by the Prime Minister and his family, who for 15 whole months were the subjects of a fabricated lie and a campaign against them. Delia made this campaign his own when he permitted someone who was a protagonist behind this to be his deputy," the statement added.