Labour MEP Marlene Mizzi insisted in court on Monday that while she was using an office in Valletta which belonged to her daughter, she was doing so free of charge and not 'pocketing' any EU funds allocated for the purpose.

“I’m a person of integrity. No one ever pointed a finger at me,” the MEP said during libel proceedings against Nationalist MEP David Casa.

The proceedings were instituted after comments given by Mr Casa to Malta Today wherein he said that the PL MEP was leasing office premises from her daughter “payment free, necessarily implying these funds are pocketed.”

Answering questions by her lawyer Edward Gatt, Ms Mizzi explained how she had been offered the premises, owned by her daughter, in Strait Street, Valletta, to be used as an office.

“It was vacant. MEPs are duty bound to have an office in Malta, separate from any organization, including their political party. I don’t have an office at the PN headquarters, unlike Mr Casa,” Ms Mizzi said.

“I don’t rent it. I use it for free,” she insisted, saying that her daughter would not accept money. Moreover, the rules of the EU Parliament did not favour money handed over by MEPs to family members.

‘Pocketing,’ she said, had a very specific meaning in the English language. It meant taking something that was not yours.

She pointed out that barely one week before publication of the article, a European Parliament vote on the general expenses account had called for more transparency.

In his article Mr Casa failed to say that she had voted in favour of transparency while criticising others who had not.

“He said I was leasing the premises and pocketing funds, but failed to say that I too had voted for transparency. He only mentioned me as he pleased.”

Taking the witness stand, Mr Casa said that he made his comments in reply to an email by newspaper editor Saviour Balzan. He had asked him to publish his reply in full,  but he chose to do otherwise. Mr Casa said that in his email he had not mentioned Ms Mizzi by name, but had made reference to “an MEP.”

Moreover, he had based his statement on what MEP Mizzi had already said in comments reported by Times of Malta. Dr Gatt asked whether Mr Casa had taken steps against Mr Balzan.

“No. I take steps when I choose to,” came the reply.

The case continues in March.

Lawyers Edward Gatt and Mark Vassallo assisted MEP Mizzi.

Lawyers Jason Azzopardi and Kris Busietta assisted MEP Casa.

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