Times retracts Camilleri defence after new information emerged on shoplifting incident

Times of Malta retracted its initial defence of its most senior journalist, claiming new information had emerged on the shoplifting incident first reported by MaltaToday

The original 31 October editorial defence of Ivan Camilleri, now retracted
The original 31 October editorial defence of Ivan Camilleri, now retracted

Times of Malta has retracted its editorial statement it made in October when it denied allegations that former journalist Ivan Camilleri was involved in shoplifting incident from a Naxxar supermarket, now saying that new information has emerged on the incident. 

This newspaper broke the story that Camilleri had been confronted by Valyou supermarket management over an alleged case of shoplifting. Camilleri had denied the allegations, with Mediatoday director Saviour Balzan filing a libel suit against the journalist to safeguard CCTV footage from the supermarket.

"Based on [his] explanation and trust in a long-standing team member, Times of Malta publicly defended Mr Camilleri. In the ensuing weeks, Times of Malta continued to investigate the allegations and discovered a contradictory version of events, which was confirmed by a number of individuals," the Times' revised statement on the 31 October editorial now reads.

It added that since the newspaper consistently called for people in high office to act according to basic standards of honesty and accountability, such a standard had to also be applied with one of their own "even at the pain of losing one of the company's most experienced hands."

The Times of Malta previously vehemently defended the journalist, claiming that Balzan's article on the shoplifting incident was "littered with malicious innuendo" and with the intention to mislead. 

In an unexpected turn of events, Camilleri was dismissed from the Times of Malta after an alleged tip-off to Yorgen Fenech was mentioned during the compilation of evidence against Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech, charged with masterminding the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. 

A question was put by the Caruana Galizia family’s lawyer Jason Azzopardi during the examination of lead investigator Keith Arnaud, where he asked about a tip-off from a journalist that had been found in Fenech’s mobile phone.

MaltaToday broke the story that the police had found a Whatsapp text from Fenech to his uncle, Ray Fenech, in which a certain 'Ivan' allegedly warned the former of police interest. 

Camilleri declined to comment when asked by this newspaper about such an incident but later issued a lengthy statement via his lawyer, Ian Spiteri Bailey, following his dismissal from his Times of Malta job.

"Mr Camilleri insists that Allied Newspapers and its management reached its conclusions on what it itself termed 'suspicions' and 'allegations'. There wasn’t, and there couldn’t have been, any reference to my client’s version of events, simply because he was not given the opportunity to rebut same allegations.

"This serves to effectively affirm that the decision to terminate Mr. Camilleri’s employment was taken on the basis of unfounded suppositions and allegations, and certainly not on any tangible and justifiable grounds. It becomes apparent that the company was only interested in finding some futile excuse to terminate Mr Camilleri’s employment," the statement read.

It added that Times failed to bring forth any substantial evidence to sustain its allegations and that it went ahead with the termination of his employment "despite his impeccable record in 15 years of service."

Camilleri said that he never discussed, spoken to, or otherwise communicated with Fenech on the assassination of Caruana Galizia.