The Malta Independent 18 January 2020, Saturday

Updated (2): Times of Malta journalist fired after company learnt facts about 'diverse issues'

Friday, 20 December 2019, 11:12 Last update: about 28 days ago

Allied Newspapers Limited has confirmed that it has dismissed Times of Malta journalist Ivan Camilleri.

In a statement the company said:

"Following press reports, Allied Newspapers Limited confirms that it has terminated the employment of the Times of Malta senior journalist Mr Ivan Camilleri.

"This decision was taken after recent facts over a number of diverse issues were brought to the attention of the Company.

"Allied Newspapers Limited wishes to make it clear that Mr Camilleri is therefore no longer a member of the editorial staff of the company."

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The company did not specify the reasons for the dismissal, but MaltaToday reported that it was in connection with alleged communication he had with Yorgen Fenech on the eve of his attempted escape from Portomaso harbour.

The mention of an unnamed journalist was made on Thursday during the compilation of evidence against Fenech, accused with having masterminded the assassination of the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

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

Arnaud was not certain but said he believed that Fenech had been informed about what was happening in the news and his reaction was to attempt to leave the islands. The name of the journalist was not asked of Fenech, Arnaud says.

MaltaToday said it is informed that the police found a WhatsApp text from Yorgen Fenech to his uncle, Ray Fenech, in which he speaks of a certain ‘Ivan’ allegedly warning him of police interest.

Contacted by MaltaToday, Ivan Camilleri declined to comment: “I will not comment. I will be fighting this unfair dismissal.”

In a statement through his lawyer Ian Spiteri Bailey later, Camilleri "unequivocally and categorically" denied and rebutted all the allegations made in his regard and as reported as being entirely unfounded in fact and at law and will be taking all necessary legal measures to protect his reputation and challenge the unfair dismissal.

Camilleri insisted 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 his 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 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 Camilleri’s employment, the statement said.

"The company failed to provide Camilleri a fair and just treatment and did not provide one single piece of evidence to sustain its allegations before proceeding with the termination of the employment of its most senior journalist in its newsroom, despite his impeccable record in 15 years of service," the statement said.

He re-terated that he "has never discussed, spoken to or otherwise communicated with Mr Yorgen Fenech on the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. He puts himself entirely at the disposal of the relative authorities to give or make any possible clarifications on what is being alleged in his regard, not least, by his employer."

In the light of the above, and given the "illicit and illegal way" in which Camilleri’s employer has acted, thereby rendering itself liable for all damages, the company has been asked to remedy the situation in terms of law at the earliest, the statement concluded.

In October, Camilleri had been at the centre of a story in which MaltaToday reported that he had been “confronted on shoplifting” in a Naxxar supermarket, with Camilleri replying that the story had been “conjured” by a managing editor “with a clear agenda to try to tarnish the reputation of serious people.”

Balzan had later filed a libel suit against Camilleri.

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