Fenech’s defence team deny allegations but confirm they tried to pass on money

Updated 10:34 AM

The Police confirmed that the cash offer that was made to the journalist by Yorgen Fenech’s lawyers is being investigated

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Yorgen Fenech’s defence team confirmed that they tried to pass on money to Times of Malta Journalist, Ivan Martin while also stating that the issue raised by the media house was all intended to further blacken the character of their client.

In a statement released on Wednesday, by lawyer Charles Mercieca, Fenech’s defence team accused Martin of taking advantage of their ethical obligations by posing as an investigator interested in helping their client through investigative services, as well as sources and information.

The defence team is comprised of Gianluca Caruana Curran, Charles Mercieca and Marion Camilleri but Caruana Curran and Mercieca were the ones who met with the journalist for 20 minutes on Monday.

On Tuesday it was reported that Yorgen Fenech’s defense team attempted to bribe Times of Malta journalist Ivan Martin. Times of Malta reported this, and published a statement issued by his lawyer, Gianluca Caruana Curran, who admitted that he attempted to renumerate Martin following the conclusion of their meeting.

Yorgen Fenech is accused of being involved in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination. Ivan Martin is one of the main journalists investigating and reporting on the case.

In the meantime, the Police confirmed with Newsbook.com.mt the cash offer that was made to the journalist by Yorgen Fenech’s lawyers.

Fenech’s defence team, also stated that Times of Malta’s allegations of impropriety are strongly denied and any suggestion otherwise is unsubstantiated and denied.

The Times outlined that Martin was handed over a number of folded €500 notes. Martin is unsure of how much money was offered, since he didn’t count it. The Times report, on Tuesday, outlined that Martin rejected the money, telling the lawyers that he is only paid by the Times of Malta.

Yorgen Fenech’s defence team said that Gianluca Caruana Curran did not spontaneously offer to give Martin money without an offer of professional services as the defence is duty bound to pursue all, reasonable, investigative avenues and sources of information.

Fenech’s legal team accused Ivan Martin of exploiting his journalistic trade saying he sought to damage the integrity of the defence, in a way that risks undermining the fairness of their client’s trial.

Times of Malta did not make any “allegations of impropriety”

In an editorial statement Times of Malta said it has read the statement by lawyer Charles Mercieca “who made a poor attempt at trying to justify why cash was handed to one of their journalist at the end of a meeting.”

The editorial board explained the following;

  • This was the second meeting between Ivan Martin and the lawyers in question. The first one was at the lawyers’ office on October 30 – where they discussed the story. It was Mercieca himself who asked to meet again on Monday. Ivan Martin has evidence of this.
  • Ivan Martin informed his editors about both meetings and kept them posted about developments.
  • On Monday, Gianluca Caruana Curran told Ivan Martin that he had “never dealt with journalists before”. He was therefore well aware he was actually dealing with a journalist, who happens to be one of the most high-profile reporters in Malta. How he has gone from that to a private investigator, as claimed in their statement on Wednesday morning, baffles us.
  • At no point in his conversation did Ivan Martin indicate he was an investigator, a claim which came a day after the story was published. 
  • We still find it strange how criminal lawyers just hand over €500 notes at the end of a meeting to someone, without even expecting a receipt.
  • Times of Malta did not make any “allegations of impropriety”. We simply stated the facts as they happened and gave the lawyers in question time to reply, which reply was carried in full.

The Times of Malta said it has welcomed reports that the police and the Chamber of Advocates are looking into this issue.

The PN will continue to demand that action is taken

Partit Nazzjonalista reiterated its continued support towards quality journalism and deplored the reported attempt of paying to influence news reporting. In a statement issued by Opposition Spokesperson for Heritage, Arts, Culture and Media, Therese Comodini Cachia, the PN said it will continue to demand that action is taken in this regard

Therese Comodini Cachia said that journalists in Malta face several obstacles including threats from SLAPP and bullying.

“The reported attempt as well as these threats are serious and urgent action is needed to ensure that our journalists and newsrooms receive the protection they deserve,” said Comodini Cachia while stating that although it is positive that the Chamber of Advocates has called for an investigation, Parliament needs to act to ensure that journalists and free media is strengthened and protected.