The Malta Independent 21 January 2020, Tuesday

OPM silent on Muscat’s reported London visit - ‘official visits always communicated’

Rebekah Cilia Wednesday, 1 January 2020, 09:30 Last update: about 20 days ago

A spokesperson for the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) would not give details, or confirm the outgoing Prime Minister’s reported London visit, saying only that official visits are always communicated, when asked by The Malta Independent if the visit was an official one or a holiday.

This follows a report by PN media, Net News, that Joseph Muscat arrived from Dubai yesterday, 30 December and will be leaving for London on 2 January.

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The OPM would not confirm if the London visit is an official one or not, but did not deny Muscat will be travelling to London. Whilst the spokesperson said all official visits are communicated, no communication has been made with the media regarding a visit to London, so far.

Should Muscat be travelling to London in the coming days, it will be his fourth trip abroad in just a few weeks. Just a few days ago, Muscat was seen at the VIP lounge of the Malta International Airport boarding a plane for Dubai.

It was initially reported that Muscat, along with his wife and two children were travelling first class. This was eventually evidenced by PN MP Jason Azzopardi who published on his Facebook page a photo, presumably taken onboard the plane, showing the Muscats flying first-class to Dubai.

Azzopardi noted that first-class seats, which afford more privacy, are even more expensive than business class. A spokesperson for the OPM had confirmed then that Muscat was on a “personal trip with his family” but declined to say for how long he would be gone for, it was reported.

Former OPM Chief of Staff, Keith Schembri was also reported to have travelled abroad, with his family, for a three-day break to Italy. Rumours circulating that Muscat and Schembri were meeting each other in the Dubai were dismissed as “completely untrue”, by an OPM spokesperson.

The Prime Minister has already visited the Vatican City and Bethlehem in the past weeks, as damaging revelations continue to emerge on the closeness between Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech, Schembri and Muscat.

Deputy Prime Minister, Chris Fearne is stepping in as an acting prime minister in Muscat's absence.

Last week it was erroneously reported by other sections of the press that Schembri received permission from the police for this holiday. The Malta Independent clarified that Schembri did not request police permission to travel, and was not required to do so.

The law does not provide for any restrictions on Schembri’s movements since he is not under arrest or under police bail at the moment, sources told this newsroom.

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