The Malta Independent 5 March 2021, Friday

Daphne public inquiry: Keith Schembri's answers on 17 Black were 'unsatisfactory' - Kurt Farrugia

Friday, 17 July 2020, 10:00 Last update: about 9 months ago

The public inquiry into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on Friday heard how Kurt Farrugia, former OPM head of communications, had found Keith Schembri's answers related to 17 Black to be "unsatisfactory".

Farrugia was the only person to testify on Friday, delving into a raft of different subjects across a four-hour testimony.

He testified about his first reaction to hearing of the journalist's murder, his advice to Konrad Mizzi not to contest for the post of deputy leader of the Labour Party if he was indeed embroiled in scandals which Caruana Galizia had hinted at, and about how he had told his superior - Prime Minister Joseph Muscat - that people in a position such as that of Konrad Mizzi should step aside if they are embroiled in scandals of a magnitude like the Panama Papers.


Key Points from Kurt Farrugia's testimony

Farrugia was of the opinion that people in a position such as that of Konrad Mizzi could not be embroiled in scandals of such a magnitude as their position becomes untenable, and said that he had told Joseph Muscat this.

Farrugia described the answers he had received from Keith Schembri about his ties to Yorgen Fenech's 17 Black as "unsatisfactory".

Farrugia says that the media not being invited to Azerbaijan when the government went was discussed and agreed upon, but that they had learned their lesson from that decision.

Farrugia denies ever seeing the key players behind the Electrogas power station - Yorgen Fenech, Mark Gasasn or Peter Apap Bologna - at the PL's HQ before the 2013 general election.

"I am beyond convinced that what Daphne Caruana Galizia was saying about Joseph and Michelle Muscat was false", Farrugia says of Egrant allegations.

Farrugia had asked Konrad Mizzi to refrain from contesting the party deputy leadership post if anything was amiss

Konrad Mizzi described Caruana Galizia's first story hinting at his New Zealand and Panama structures in February 2016 as "bluff".

Farrugia did not know that Keith Schembri and Yorgen Fenech were "like brothers".

"I felt as if the world collapsed on me" - Kurt Farrugia's reaction when first hearing of Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder.

Nexia BT Managing Partners Brian Tonna and Karl Cini used to be regulars at the OPM doing audits, but did not have a specific office.

In the previous sitting, the court heard testimony from freelance journalist Victor Paul Borg who said that investigative journalists end up isolated in Malta and that authorities often fail to investigate their stories. He ended his testimony by asking the inquiry to make recommendations to protect journalists.

The public inquiry is tasked with, amongst other things, determining whether the State did all it could to prevent the murder from happening.

Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bomb just outside her Bidnija home on 16 October 2017. Three men, George Degiorgio, Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat, have been charged with carrying out the assassination, while Yorgen Fenech is charged with masterminding the murder.

Melvin Theuma, who acted as a middleman between Fenech and the three killers, was granted a presidential pardon last year to tell all.

The inquiry is led by retired judge Michael Mallia, former chief justice Joseph Said Pullicino and Judge Abigail Lofaro.

Follow proceedings live below:

12:47 That is all for today. Thank you for following.

12:47 The sitting on Wednesday starts at 9:15am.

12:47 The sitting is over. On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo will testify and on Friday, MEP David Casa will testify.

12:45 She steps off the witness stand.

12:45 Corinne Vella says that PR 115/17 on the police website, rebutting a story in in-Nazzjon, which said that Mizzi and Schembri were going to be charged after the Panama Papers broke, has since been removed.

12:44 Glenn Bedingfield and Neville Gafà and "a newspaper which is supposed to be independent" had led a coordinated attack aimed at making Daphne look like a PN agent, as she had been photographed greeting Simon Busuttil in Valletta.

12:40 Vella says a doctored copy of a private document which was only available to the European Parliament's LIBE committee had made its way to the government. Vella says the government had published it and rebutted it point by point. "The whole murder was treated as a PR problem for the government."

12:39 "Farrugia will have to be recalled," Judge Abigail Lofaro states.

12:38 Vella says Caruana Galizia had been made the reason for the early election in 2017. "But the sequence of dates here shows that it is not correct... Farrugia had not been taking her calls aside from one time when he called her at 6:15am asking to remove a blog post. Daphne Caruana Galizia had been discredited as a credible source and government would not answer her questions, despite being proved right over the years."

12:33 The 2017 interview was about threats, she says. This happened about two weeks before Daphne's murder.

12:32 Vella says that her sister had said that "she had been turned into a national scapegoat and this has gone on for the last 30 years". A transcript of the recording will be provided to the board.

12:31 Corinne Vella explains that it is Daphne Caruana Galizia speaking to an interviewer as part of a research project where she wouldn't be named. It was for the Council of Europe about safety of journalists.

12:30 The clarity of the recording is poor and everyone is finding it difficult to understand.

12:30 Caruana Galizia's sister Corinne Vella takes the stand. She plays a recording of Daphne, as Farrugia, Lia and Gouder leave the courtroom.

12:29 Farrugia steps off the witness stand.

12:28 Asked about whether the lack of information made available to the public was a problem, Farrugia says that "in hindsight had we done things differently it would have been better".

12:25 Tonna is a director at Nexia BT, the accountancy firm that opened the Panama companies for Mizzi and Schembri.

12:24 Farrugia says he knows nothing about Tonna having a desk at OPM.

12:24 Farrugia: "I don't remember. I didn't know him well... he was there for an audit which his firm was conducting."

12:23 Azzopardi: "Had he ever seen Brian Tonna after 2017 at the OPM?"

12:23 Farrugia's lawyer Pawlu Lia accuses Azzopardi of trying to create soundbites for the media.

12:22 Azzopardi asks Farrugia if he is being paid by the Office of the Prime Minister apart from Malta Enterprise. "No," he replies.

12:20 Farrugia: "I had never been informed of this. I don't even remember exactly what story this was."

12:20 Questioning turns to PR firm Chelgate and Sandstone. The EU Observer, an online Brussels-based news portal, had written an article about misinformation relating to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Azzopardi recalls.

12:20 Farrugia: "I had never been informed of this. I don't even remember exactly what story this was."

12:20 Questioning turns to PR firm Chelgate and Sandstone. The EU Observer, an online Brussels-based news portal, had written an article about misinformation relating to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Azzopardi recalls.

12:18 Farrugia: "No, I never made the request. We had laughed about it, in fact."

12:18 Azzopardi: "Do you remember a request by you and Ramona Attard to arrest Norman Vella over the alleged taking of photos at the airport?"

12:17 Question is interrupted by Lia protesting. The board moves questioning along.

12:15 Azzopardi: "Did he tell you how he was paying them, they are very expensive?"

12:15 The testimony continues with Farrugia saying that Konrad Mizzi had informed him that he was seeking international legal advice.

12:14 Azzopardi asks what held the prime minister back from firing Mizzi and Schembri but Farrugia's lawyer, Pawlu Lia, protests loudly, insisting these questions are political and partisan.

12:13 BACKGROUND INFO: Most of the government's PPPs were coordinated by Mizzi and it is public knowledge that Schembri was also the driving force inside government on such projects.

12:12 Farrugia: "I can't point fingers at people. The decisions translated into better quality of life for people, although some things could have been done better in hindsight."

12:11 Said Pullicino asks the witness about public private partnerships undertaken by the government.

12:07 Farrugia says that Schembri would isolate himself on certain decisions.

12:06 Farrugia: "When Konrad Mizzi was finally removed from a ministerial position, it was very hard to close certain projects. Keith Schembri would coordinate certain work... so I wanted to reflect this in my public statements out of loyalty to the government."

12:05 Farrugia says that he was of the opinion that people in such a position could not be embroiled in such controversies as their position becomes untenable. He had told them this.

12:04 Several people in government had called for the resignation of Konrad Mizzi, Azzopardi says. "You and the prime minister had deep trust in each other. Had you ever told him look these people can no longer be in our government?"

11:59 "The prime minister might have been called in," Farrugia says but doesn't recall exactly.

11:59 Azzopardi: "On such a bomb... a money laundering machine involving the top brass from government... was it a short meeting? Didn't you call in the prime minister to discuss it with you and Keith Schembri?"

11:58 Farrugia recalls Schembri acting surprised at the amount of detail in the questions.

11:58 Farrugia says that he had specifically spoken to Keith Schembri about 17 Black when he had received questions from Reuters and Times of Malta. He found the answers he was given as "unsatisfactory".

11:58 Azzopardi asks the witness about 17 Black, the Dubai company, which was outed in November 2018 as belonging to Yorgen Fenech.

11:57 Farrugia says that in November 2018, he had found out about a Keith Schembri story broken by Reuters and Times of Malta, shortly before it was published, when he was sent questions by the journalists. "I had spoken to Keith Schembri about this," he says.

11:55 Farrugia: "I prefer to stick to the facts that emerged."

11:55 Farrugia says he had spoken to Keith Schembri about the negative impact of opening offshore companies in secretive jurisdictions.

Kurt Farrugia described the answers he received from Keith Schembri about his ties to 17 Black as 'unsatisfactory'

11:50 Azzopardi suggests that Farrugia had instructions not to answer questions from Daphne Caruana Galzia on certain subjects. Farrugia denies this.

11:49 Farrugia repeats that he thinks the media should have accompanied the prime minister.

11:48 Azzopardi points out that the Maltese people found out about the visit from the Azerbaijani media.

11:48 Farrugia adds that it was something public and government was naive to have thought that it wouldn't need media presence.

11:47 Farrugia: "We had discussed it and we thought that there was no need to have the media. In hindsight, we learnt our lesson. But the suspicions surrounding this visit are all smoke in the air."

11:46 Azzopardi: "Don't you find it strange that no media was present in Azerbaijan in 2014?"

11:46 The witness confirms. He adds that TVM and DOI were invited for this meeting but had gotten stuck in France because of a problem with connecting flights.

11:45 Azzopardi says Farrugia had again travelled to Azerbaijan in 2015 with the prime minister alone. They met with the PM of Azerbaijan and Joseph Muscat was to speak at a conference.

11:43 Farrugia says the media wasn't informed because there was going to be a public announcement after the visit.

11:42 Azzopardi says that in December 2014, Farrugia had travelled to Azerbaijan with Joseph Muscat. The delegation also included chief of staff Keith Schembri and energy minister Konrad Mizzi. He asks Farrugia why the media was not invited to accompany the government delegation to Azerbaijan.

In 2014, a small Maltese delegation comprised of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, then-Minister Konrad Mizzi, and Farrugia visited Azerbaijan for an official meeting.  The media were not invited. 

11:40 Azzopardi formally requests the witness to bring the communications he had with her at a later sitting.

11:38 Questioning moves on. Farrugia denies not answering Daphne Caruana Galizia after the Panama story broke in 2016, insisting there were times when he had spoken to her and times when he hadn't.

11:35 Azzopardi is arguing that the reward was never mentioned ever again.

11:35 Farrugia: "This reward was mentioned several times, even in international publications."

11:35 Azzopardi: "That was shortly after 16 October 2017. How many times after that do you recall the government reminding the public of this reward?"

11:34 Azzopardi asks about the government offer of €1 million reward for information on the Caruana Galizia murder.

11:33 Azzopardi has just presented the inquiry board with a link to the Economist story written by Alexander Clapp. Farrugia explains that he would have between three and five requests a week for an interview with the prime minister. "At the time, it was my judgement that he wasn't a journalist for The Economist."

11:30 Farrugia speaks of his relations with journalists. He would regularly communicate with Caroline Muscat from the Times of Malta, even if she was critical of government, Farrugia says by way of example. Before setting up The Shift News, Muscat had been employed at Times of Malta. In between media organisations she briefly served as the campaign manager for the Nationalist Party.

11:28 Farrugia is now speaking about the registry of newspaper editors and accreditation under the new Press Act. Daphne Caruana Galizia didn't have accreditation, he says.

11:27 BACKGROUND INFO: Clapp is actually a freelance journalist based in Athens, who contributes to various publications. He has occasionally written for The Economist and his Twitter account gives a Gmail address for communication.

11:24 Farrugia explains that the language he used was not of a journalist from The Economist. I dealt with journalists from CNN, BBC, Sky News and all over the world, they never used this language.

11:21 "I think that [Alexander] Clapp was a freelance journalist who once wrote for The Economist," Farrugia explains. Clapp was the journalist who sent the request for interview via a Gmail account.

11:20 Farrugia and his lawyer Pawlu Lia object.

11:19 Azzopardi says he would bring evidence contradicting this after the witness finished testifying.

11:19 Farrugia says he had written back to say that they could meet, but not about certain issues as there would be a magisterial inquiry underway.

11:17 Farrugia recalls how one time, a journalist sent him an email from a Gmail account, claiming to be from The Economist. "I had seen it as strange and so I spoke to my Economist contact and asked whether he worked for them. The answer was negative."

11:15 Farrugia: "When requests came in, we would assess them."

11:14 Azzopardi points out that Joseph Muscat stopped giving interviews after the BBC Sweeny interview, which led to Chris Peregin of Lovin Malta to write an imaginary interview with Muscat. "What instructions were given to refuse interviews?"

11:13 Farrugia says it was their opinion that it was distorted. "It is what they are saying."

11:12 Azzopardi says that PEN International had accused Farrugia of distorting its open letter in which it slammed the outrageous behaviour of V18 chairman Jason Micallef in relation to the Caruana Galizia murder. "On whose orders was the letter distorted?"

11:11 Farrugia: "Yes."

11:11 Azzopardi refers to the NAO report on the power station project. "Do you still say that you never saw these people at Labour HQ?"

11:09 Farrugia: "No."

11:09 Before the 2013 election Farrugia had been in the "engine room" of the electoral campaign. Had he ever seen Yorgen Fenech, Mark Gasan or Peter Apap Bologna at PL HQ?

11:07 Caruana Galizia family lawyer Jason Azzopardi takes over the questioning.

Farrugia testified that he had not seen any of the key players behind the new Electrogas power station, including Yorgen Fenech, at the Labour Party HQ before the 2013 general election.

11:07 Farrugia: "I always saw that our relationships with foreign and local press were good, even when the situation was difficult."

11:05 Asked about security at Castille, Farrugia says it was in the hands of AFM. "I don't recall that there was anyone running security on the inside."

11:04 Farrugia: "I'm sorry, also because I lived through the Egrant saga, I know that the information was not correct... I remember Joseph Muscat saying that there could never be any attacks on his wife's finances, such was his confidence that she was above board. I am beyond convinced that what Daphne Caruana Galizia was saying about Joseph and Michelle Muscat was false."

11:01 He disagrees with the assertion that Caruana Galizia's blog was taken as an open source. "Many times she was incorrect," Farrugia adds.

11:00 Farrugia: "It would bother me that information published by newspapers was not always correct."

11:00 Farrugia says he is not aware of any decision for further investigations into Konrad Mizzi after the prime minister had stripped him of the energy portfolio. Knowing Mizzi's intention to contest the deputy leadership, Farrugia says he had asked him to refrain from contesting if there was anything amiss.

10:57 Back to the Labour Party's proposals to reduce electricity tariffs, Farrugia says the party had explored two proposals. He recalls that one of them involved using olive stones to generate electricity.

10:54 Farrugia says that when he confronted Mizzi about his mention in the Running Commentary, Caruana Galizia's blog, the minister had replied that it was "bluff".

10:52 The cryptic post was a reference to a Panama company and New Zealand trust set up by minister Konrad Mizzi, who was then contesting for the post of party deputy leader.

10:52 Farrugia: "The first time that I heard an inference about something not being right was when Daphne Caruana Galizia posted a cryptic image of a Panama hat and a New Zealand lamb [in February 2016]."

10:50 Judge Mallia points out that just three days after coming into power the foreign structures were set up.

"Bluff" - how former Minister Konrad Mizzi described Daphne Caruana Galizia's first story hinting at his Panama and New Zealand structures in February 2016.

10:50 The negative elements were conducted behind his back, suggest the panel.

10:49 Farrugia says that his role was to deliver the government's message through PR and marketing. He says that it annoys him because everything he saw was done in good faith. "I don't recall a meeting where personal interests were being discussed."

10:49 Said Pullicino asks about oft used phrase by Joseph Muscat referring to żrara fiż-żarbun. "It had transpired throughout the inquiry, and it annoys us, that employees up to a certain level were allowed to work honestly and had been betrayed," the former chief justice says.

10:46 He expresses pride at what the government had achieved in various sectors.

10:41 Farrugia: “It was taboo for the PL to have some kind of relationship with the business world and it was one of the pain points that we had addressed in 2008. We wanted to bridge… hold talks with constituted bodies and representatives of unions and industry to form policy.”

10:40 Farrugia says the fourth floor was used for electoral planning.

10:39 He asks about the fourth floor of the Labour Party headquarters. Former PL deputy leader and now Speaker Anġlu Farrugia had infamously mentioned the fourth floor in his resignation letter just before the 2013 election, alluding to meetings that took place there between the leadership and businesspeople.

10:37 Said Pullicino takes up the questioning.

The Labour Party HQ - Speaker Anglu Farrugia testified in the past of meetings on the party's fourth floor.

10:37 Farrugia: "I didn't have information that I didn't pass on. The journalist would sometimes tag me on Twitter and I had replied to him on occasion."

10:36 Lofaro says there is a suspicion that Farrugia had held back information about Pilatus Bank.

10:36 What about Swiss news outlet Republique? "I had spoken to a journalist from there, whose name escapes me..."

10:34 He adds that Chelgate would come to Malta on occasion.

10:33 Farrugia says they would provide consultancy to government and he would speak to them about media relations. He would speak to Robert Winstanley.

10:33 Farrugia is asked by judge Michael Mallia about Chelgate, a British communications firm, and the services it provided government.

10:32 Farrugia recalls how Joseph Muscat had told those present not to mention names, but to refer to initials only. No names of suspects were mentioned, he says.

10:30 He is asked about the OPM briefing after the murder. He recalls the brigadier, Keith Schembri, Keith Arnaud and Jospeh Muscat being present. He doesn't recall Silvio Valletta being present.

10:28 Farrugia: "I had asked them and they had said they had no connection with 17 Black." One of the board members interjects: "And you stopped there." Farrugia says he had no means of investigating or interfering with investigations.

10:27 Returning to the Panama Papers, Farrugia says he had demanded detailed explanations from Mizzi and Schembri about the Panama companies. "They had said that the information was not true. They would deny any connection with the companies. Likewise with 17 Black."

10:25 Farrugia says that he had seen Yorgen Fenech twice, once at an event for the power station and once at Castille, possibly for a meeting with Keith Schembri.

10:24 Farrugia: "I didn't know they were like brothers. I found this out from the media, during the subsequent arrests."

10:23 Farrugia says he had no idea that Keith Schembri and Yorgen Fenech were so close. Judge Abigail Lofaro interject: "They were like brothers (Kienu qishom aħwa)."

10:22 He says Bedingfield had been a journalist but had political aspirations. "I worked with him for many years."

10:21 Farrugia: "We had one Opposition MP who was in court with family problems. We would never publish any stories about this."

10:20 Farrugia says he had sometimes gone to Joseph Muscat with stories from Labour media outlets and was stopped because they were too personal.

10:19 Farrugia: "Sometimes I agreed with his style, sometimes I didn't... we had discussions about his style. I had asked him to tone it down, but not as an order, as a friend."

10:19 Was he involved in Glenn Bedingfield's blog? "No," he replies but they worked in the same office.

10:17 Generally, it was journalists who approached him for information, Farrugia says.

10:16 The board asks about wrong information given to the media about possible motives for Caruana Galizia's murder, amongst them oil smuggling.

10:16 Farrugia: "The cost of electricity was already an issue. Konrad Mizzi had taken an interest in this sector. He said that if the price of utilities went down we would be helping the economy."

10:15 Asked about Konrad Mizzi, Farrugia says he got to know Konrad Mizzi around 2010 when Joseph Muscat summoned him into his office. He introduced him as not living in Malta and as being one of the candidates for the election and asked me to give him coverage.

"Everyone was under shock" - Kurt Farrugia's description of the moment that he and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat learned of the murder.

10:14 Farrugia: "I didn't even know who Yorgen Fenech was at the time. I knew the Tumas Group but never had any interactions with him. I always saw him at public occasions and very occasionally."

10:13 Answering a question from the board, he said he didn't really know Keith Schembri but knew he was a friend of the prime minister. "I got to know him through work in 2013, with the election."

10:12 Farrugia says that at that time he wasn't with Keith Schembri or the Prime Minister.

10:11 He continues explaining that journalists were calling him for confirmation of what happened. "I told them to come to Castille for a press conference. I didn't confirm what had happened."

10:10 Farrugia: "Everyone was under shock."

10:10 Farrugia says the prime minister had started writing what he would say, after asking for a press conference. By that time, the police commissioner hadn't even confirmed that it was Caruana Galizia.

10:09 Farrugia says the prime minister then called the Opposition leader.

10:09 The prime minister had told him to call the brigadier and inform him. Farrugia says he had called up the Commissioner of Police. "At first, he couldn't answer and a few moments later he called back and told me that the bomb was probably planted on Daphne Caruana Galizia. I felt as if the world collapsed on me."

10:07 Farrugia: "When we were almost in Valletta the PM received a message about a bomb somewhere near Mosta. He said, 'madoffi that's where the wife passes through to take the kids to school'."

10:06 Asked about Keith Schembri's whereabouts, Farrugia says that he was not at the Sliema event. "I assume he was in Castille."

10:04 Farrugia: "That day was the day that Adrian Delia was going to present a response to the budget. We had made an event with foreign companies in Sliema... that summer the government had done a lot of work, also because of the fact that the PN was in a leadership race. Caruana Galizia had reduced her focus on the Labour Party at the time."

10:04 Questions turn to the murder. Where were you at the time?

Kurt Farrugia is now the CEO of Malta Enterprise, but up until last year served as the head of communications for the Office of the Prime Minister.

10:03 Farrugia: "No. I would see them on the media. They were in everybody's hands but mine."

10:02 Farrugia is asked whether he ever had copies of the FIAU reports.

10:01 Farrugia says that at the time his office was on the first floor. Eventually, the office was moved to the third floor. He never had an office on the second floor.

10:00 Farrugia: "I didn't feel it was my remit to speak to people part of structures not part of government. It certainly wasn't my role to investigate. They definitely didn't have an office at Castille. Nexia BT managing partners Karl Cini and Brian Tonna had initially been regulars at the OPM doing audits but they didn't have a specific office."

09:58 Had he ever spoken to Nexia BT?

09:58 Farrugia: "I would generally rely on them. I would go to ras il-għajn (the source)."

09:57 He is asked whether he had an independent source for his information. "If you had Konrad Mizzi or Keith Schembri telling you things, would you rely on that or do research?"

09:56 Farrugia is asked whether he had ever spoken to prime minister Joseph Muscat about the Panama Papers. "Yes, I had," he replies.

09:55 He is asked about any assistants he had. Farrugia says he always had an assistant - Matthew Carbone.

09:52 Farrugia: "I don't remember exactly but they had said that there were incorrect assertions."

09:52 Mallia asks him what their reaction was.

09:51 Farrugia does not recall if she had ever asked him anything about Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri. He had spoken to both men and formulated a reaction when the Panama Papers broke.

09:50 He hadn't spoken to her about the Panama Papers. "I don't believe she had ever asked me about the Panama Papers," he says.

Daphne Caruana Galizia, pictured in 2016 a year before her assassination.

09:50 Farrugia adds that over time Daphne Caruana Galizia became more aggressive and there were a number of stories of hers which had started to be picked up by the mainstream media, especially after the Panama Papers.

09:49 Farrugia: "I have a good relationship with all journalists... she accused me of all manners of things, even very personal things intended to hurt me. She would call me short, fat, ignorant, stupid, all sorts. More than a serious journalist, I would see her as working in gossip with a specialisation in personal matters."

09:47 Farrugia says that his few interactions with Caruana Galizia were "very courteous", except shortly before the 2008 elections, when he was a journalist at Maltastar, covering a debate between the political leaders at the University of Malta. "She was present. We had made a story about her presence. She had been part of the rowdy crowd of students there making jokes about wigs and cancer. There was a small incident between Caruana Galizia's son and a cameraman."

09:44 Farrugia: "Her work didn't start in 2013 but long before. Her pen was very critical of the Labour Party... before the election I was editor of Caruana Galizia would criticise journalists who weren't critical of the Labour Party."

09:43 Judge Michael Mallia asks him how he would react to the criticism of the government by Daphne Caruana Galizia.

09:43 There was a political structure aside from the civil service one, that he was answerable to, Farrugia explains. He had five direct staff members under his wing, writing statements and reporting and coordinating. Others were for research and marketing. The staff complement increased over the years.

09:40 Farrugia says that before 2013 he was director of communications of the Labour Party. After that he was appointed as Head of Government Communications as a person of trust. It was a yearly contract renewable every year.

09:39 Kurt Farrugia is summoned to the witness stand and takes the oath.

09:38 The three judges leading the public inquiry emerge. Retired judge Michael Mallia is heading the inquiry. Former chief justice Joseph Said Pullicino and Madame Justice Abigail Lofaro are the other members.

09:37 Former government head of communications Kurt Farrugia is present accompanied by his lawyers Charlon Gouder and Pawlu Lia.

09:22 Good morning. The public inquiry should be starting at 9:30am.


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