Rosianne Cutajar should not have to resign as MP over her leaked chats with Yorgen Fenech because she already paid ‘the highest political price’ when she stepped down as parliamentary secretary two years ago, Robert Abela said on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters for the first time since the chats were published, Abela confirmed he did not ask Cutajar to resign as MP and does not intend to axe her from the party because she already paid for her actions and should not be made to pay again.

“Rosianne Cutajar already paid the highest political price for those same chats when she resigned as parliamentary secretary two years ago,” he said. 

“I don’t believe she should be made to pay a second time.”

Robert Abela speaks to journalists outside parliament. Video: Jonathan Borg

Asked whether he has spoken to Cutajar since the chats were leaked on Tuesday, Abela would only say he spoke to her two years ago, when she quit her cabinet role.

Cutajar had stepped down in 2021, pending the outcome of an investigation by the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life into her ethical conduct with Yorgen Fenech.

The former equality and reforms junior minister had bowed to pressure after reports by Times of Malta revealed how she had benefited from a property deal involving Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder suspect.

Her resignation was confirmed in July that year when the investigation was concluded and found her in breach of ethics. 

On Wednesday Abela also hit out at the ‘cruel’ way the chats were published.

“I’m surprised at how the PN Leader and the EU Parliament President had no problem associating themselves with this mysogynistic and cruel way that the chats were leaked,” he said. 

Mark Camilleri kept the chats for a long time and deliberately published them at a specific time in Rosianne Cutajar’s life to cause the highest possible damage, he said. 

And he leaked them despite a court decree banning their publication, Abela added. 

The transcripts of 2,200 WhatsApp chats were published by author Mark Camilleri on Tuesday, a day before the libel case that the MP filed against Camilleri was due to continue.

The chats reveal an intimate relationship between the pair at a time when Cutajar was publicly dismissing calls to investigate suspected corruption linked to Fenech.

They also include references to a gift he had given her at the time. 

When asked about this on Wednesday, Abela reiterated that Cutajar has already paid a political price for the same chats.

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