The Malta Independent 14 November 2019, Thursday

Adrian Hillman claims Panama Papers inquiry making his life ‘difficult’

Thursday, 2 August 2018, 14:30 Last update: about 2 years ago

Lawyers for Keith Schembri, Adrian Hilman and Malcolm Scerri have agreed with the Attorney General that Mr Justice Antonio Mizzi should not recuse himself from a case regarding the Panama Papers.

The three men are resisting an inquiry into their involvement in the Panama Papers.

In July, a Constitutional court had ruled that judge Mizzi should recuse himself from the Panama Papers case on account of the fact that he is married to Labour MEP Marlene Mizzi. The AG appealed against the constitutional court’s decision.

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The Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Keith Schembri, his business partner Malcolm Scerri and former Allied Newspapers managing director Adrian Hillman’s lawyers have now filed a reply to the Attorney General’s appeal against the recusal, endorsing the AG’s position.

The three men, together with the Prime Minister, Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna and Karl Cini, last year appealed a court decision ordering an inquiry into their role in the Panama Papers, which had been requested by former leader of the Opposition Simon Busuttil.

In July 2017, Magistrate Ian Farrugia had given the go-ahead for the inquiry, but it was then stagnated by appeals filed by the seven men.

Judge Mizzi had started to hear the appeal after refusing a request by Busuttil to recuse himself from the case, given that his wife had made several public proclamations about the Panama Papers.

Busuttil had gone on to file Constitutional proceedings and the Constitutional Court had upheld his request. Attorney General Peter Grech had filed an appeal against this decision on July 26, arguing that an inquiry is only intended to preserve evidence and not to pass judgment, and that therefore none of Busuttil’s rights would be impinged upon if Mizzi were to hear the case. The AG also argued that since any citizen can request an inquiry, Busuttil could not be considered a victim in this case, and that while Mizzi’s wife was a Labour MEP, he had his own ideas, principles and opinions.

In the court documents filed yesterday, Hillman, former managing director of Allied Newspapers Limited, publishers of The Times and The Sunday Times,  claims that the inquiry is making his life difficult and that if there was any violation of rights, it would be his, saying he “found himself embroiled in a morass of allegations which principally arise from partisan politics, in which he is not involved in any way.”

“Certainly in his personal regard, any allegation of partiality on the part of the sitting judge is frivolous and baseless.

“Because of and as a result of these judicial manoeuvres, his rights to a fair hearing within a reasonable time are being violated,” he said.

 

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