Attorney General Peter Grech on Tuesday defended his 2016 advice to police about raiding Nexia BT servers, arguing that any "reasonable and responsible lawyer" would have advised similarly.
Grech came under fire after Times of Malta revealed a 2016 memo in which he warned that seizing evidence in connection with a possible Panama Papers investigation into Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi would be a “drastic” move.
The memo noted that seizing evidence would be "highly intrusive" and came with a high legal risk that could be "counterproductive".
Nexia BT was the firm Schembri and Mizzi used to open secret offshore structures while in office.
Grech's memo was slammed by the family of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who said the attorney general should resign.
One of Caruana Galizia's sons, Matthew, dubbed the note a "murder memo" and argued that his mother would still be alive had Grech advised the police to "do their job".
In a statement on Tuesday evening, Grech pushed back against those accusations.
“It is difficult to imagine any reasonable and responsible lawyer advising in favour of such an intrusive measure without a sound legal basis," he said.
“It is certainly unwarranted and very far from the truth to describe the advice as a ‘murder memo’, particularly in a balanced context.”
He said his advice had focused specifically on the issue of the seizure of servers from an operating concern and on the need for the police to base such an action on well-founded reasonable suspicion to avoid illegality and liability for the payment of damages, as had happened in the past.
The AG noted that contrary to the false allegations, unfounded offensive remarks, and innuendo, nowhere did the advice propose the halting of any investigation or of the collection of evidence against any professionals, government officials, or other persons.
The advice did not relate to the whole investigation but only to one particular action on which it was sought, he said.