Returning a favour with a gift is not a justification – Standards Commissioner

What a difference a Stay Makes
Photo by Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Commissioner for Standards in Public Life George Hyzler said that for a politician to justify a gift received from a businessman saying it was reciprocated by another gift does not cancel the gift originally recieved by the member of Parliament.

This is in relation to the story published by Illum in which it was revealed that in 2017, Azzopardi stayed at a hotel in Tel Aviv for a wedding, for which the bill was paid by Tumas Group’s George Fenech. Azzopardi stated that he had asked Fenech to help him find a hotel in Tel Aviv because hotels were full. When he went to pay his bill, he was told that the room had been paid for. Azzopardi then bought Fenech a gift as thanks.

The Commissioner for Standards said that he is making this observation independently from whether the gift received by Dr Azzopardi was reciprocated by him or not.

In his report published on Tuesday Standards Commissioner Hyzler said that when Dr Jason Azzopardi said he will put himself at the Commissioner’s disposal, was an unnecessary statement as according to law his availibility is not at his discretion or his concession.

On Sunday, Azzopardi said that while the law permits Hyzler to investigate cases which allegedly happened after the office was set up, in this case, Azzopardi gave permission to the commissioner to investigate him anyway despite the case happened before.

Azzopardi told that he had spoken with Ray Fenech, Yorgen Fenech’s uncle, after he could not find accommodation in Tel Aviv. It was only when he checked out of the hotel that he found that Fenech had already paid for the stay, Azzopardi said.

Investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated in October 2017, and in 2019, Yorgen Fenech was arrested and charged with complicity in the murder and Azzopardi is representing the Caruana Galizia family.