Corruption allegations made by former Azzjoni Nazzjonali leader Josie Muscat about the handling of the multi-million euro Tigné project have been declared as fair comment by a magistrate in libel proceedings.
The allegations were made by Dr Muscat on a television show, Bondi+, in February 2008 where he said that the project was a case of “blatant corruption” and pointed out a number of shortcomings.
Shortly afterwards libel proceedings were instituted against Dr Muscat by Midi plc the company which is carrying out the development. The company insisted the allegations of corruption were defamatory.
During the television programme Dr Muscat declared that the failure to build a breakwater and a yacht marina and to restore historic elements on the site was scandalous. He also said that the original brief of the site plan was to have two storey buildings yet it went up to 14.
Taking the witness stand, Dr Muscat said that in his comments he was in no way referring to Midi plc but to the way the project was handled, not in the financial sense.
In considering the evidence, Magistrate Depasquale noted how although the word corruption had implications commonly associated with the taking of money, it also had other meanings too.
He said that the non-executive director of Midi plc, Albert Mizzi, had also said something similar to what Dr Muscat had expressed when in an interview he had said that he thought that all politicians were corrupt.
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